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 development.
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.
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 air.
Wildlife Spotlight: Red-cockaded Woodpecker
- 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.