The days are getting shorter and the nights are longer. A barred owl makes a loud hooting call that is answered by other owls. Some Native Americans believe the hoots come from spirits. With their big eyes, hunting at night is possible making them king of the night. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, but they will eat birds and reptiles also. They get their name by the barred stripes on their underside, which is good camouflage in their woodland habitat.
A large Florida white-tailed deer walks out of a wetland browsing on legumes and oak leaves. He rubs his antlers on oak tree branches to sharpen them. It is breeding season. He will fight off other bucks to create his territory for his does.
For 10 years Bud Adams has been providing Florida back country photography for the back page of Indian River Magazine. His images capture natural scenes and wildlife on his St. Lucie County ranch.
Back Country by Bud Adams
Sunrises on Adams Ranch west of Fort Pierce take on spectacular hues because of a lack of city lights. Soon, the sun will light treetops, birds will start their calls, wild hogs will head to the swamps, cows will pair up with their calves, horses in the pasture for the night will head to the barn for a day’s work. A great day is starting.
A defiant axis deer stands in the road after leaving a thick oak and palm hammock. The deer is a native of India and was introduced to Texas in 1932 and today can be found in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, California and Hawaii. The deer have spots all their lives.
Eurasian collared doves wait for feeding time on a gate at Adams Ranch west of Fort Pierce. The birds feast on the same grain eaten by the horses. Native to Europe and the Bahamas, the species spread to Florida in 1989 and is now found in nearly every state in the United States. The birds are named for the black collars around their necks.
An American white ibis wades among other birds looking for a meal of crayfish, small fish and aquatic insects. During mating season, the ibis’s bill and legs turn from light pink to crimson red, like this one. The American white is the most commonly seen ibis in Florida.
Deep in the hammock, an adult barred owl sits on an oak tree limb with a fresh catch of lizard or “green anole.” Soon, its baby flies out of its nest and lands next to the adult, taking the lizard to eat. This is an example of how nature takes care of its young to continue the species.
A common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) crawls in the sand to lay her eggs, making a rare appearance on land. Snapping turtles can grow up to 35 pounds in the wild with reports of some being as large as 85 pounds. This one, about the size of a small dog, weighs about 12 pounds. Snapping turtles have powerful jaws, sharp claws, a long tail and long extendable neck used for catching prey. Their only enemies are man and alligators. They are important aquatic scavengers, but they are also active hunters, feeding on frogs, fish, insects, snakes, birds and small mammals.