A birding hot spot in southwest Florida,
Babcock/Webb is home to numerous resident as well as migrating
birds, including the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, wood
stork, Bachman's sparrow, burrowing owl, and brown-headed
nuthatch. A variety of warblers are common during the
winter. This area is a stronghold of the eastern bluebird
and many other birds whose habitat has been lost to
Babcock/Webb's open stands of slash pine flatwoods
are home to 27 colonies of the federally listed endangered
red-cockaded woodpecker, an increase of 12 colonies since 1982.
Their cavity trees are marked with a white-painted ring.
© J. Scott Altenbach
- Florida bonneted bat
The Sherman's fox squirrel, a state listed species
of special concern, has been observed on Babcock/Webb.
Northern bobwhite quail, eastern cottontail rabbits, gray
squirrels, raccoons, white-tailed deer, and feral hogs are common
inhabitants of the flatwoods. Wading birds forage in wet prairies
and marshes throughout the day.
A good place to look for wood storks, egrets, and
herons of various types as well as alligators is in the canal along
the Seaboard Grade. Sandhill cranes are frequently found in the
field east of the stilt house. If water levels are up, a nesting
pair of sandhills may be seen east of the Oil Well Grade at the
second pond to the north.
The extremely rare Florida bonneted bat
(Eumops floridanus, listed as endangered by
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) is one of
the rarest mammals in North America. Its last natural roost was
documented in 1979, on Babcock/Webb WMA. However, recent audio
recordings provide evidence of its continued existence in several
south Florida counties (one colony was even discovered in a bat
house in Lee County in 2003). Distinguished by its large size (4.9
inches-6.5 inches) and unusual ears, this bat roosts in palms, tree
cavities and buildings, and forages for insects high in the
Wildlife Spotlight: Red-cockaded
- Red-cockaded Woodpecker
These relatively small woodpeckers only live in
old-growth pine forests where they usually make their nests in
longleaf pine infected with red heart disease. On Babcock/Webb,
red-cockaded woodpeckers nest in slash pine. A "cockade" is a small
ornament worn on a hat. In the case of the red-cockaded woodpecker,
the cockade is a small red spot behind the eyes of the male. The
cockade is only visible during courtship and aggressive displays.
The red-cockaded woodpecker is best identified by its black and
white striped back and large patches of white on its cheeks. They
live in small family groups called clans where all individuals help
feed the nestlings.