Water Management District
The best wildlife viewing is along the hiking trails which afford year round observation of state and federally protected species such as gopher tortoises and Florida scrub-jays. Eastern indigo snakes, usually found in association with gopher tortoises, also occur here. Gopher tortoises and scrub jays occur primarily south of the creek and in the northwest portion of the area. Wood storks and herons may occur during the dry season when water is concentrated in wetlands. Though rare, the Florida black bear has been spotted in the area. Red-tailed hawks and northern harriers prefer open areas such as former pastures and citrus groves.
From the trail along the creek or from a canoe, American alligator, peninsula cooter, wood duck and river otter may be observed. West Indian manatees occasionally venture into the deeper water of Hickey's Creek from the Caloosahatchee River. The oak hammocks host songbirds during seasonal migrations.
You may request a copy or download or print the Hickey's Creek Bird List .
Wildlife Spotlight: Green Anole
The green anole, the only anole native to the United States, is one of the first reptilian residents to greet most visitors to Florida. Anoles are agile climbers and they are commonly spotted basking on the sides of buildings and fence posts or clinging to shrubbery. Rarely longer than eight inches from nose to tip of tail, this slender lizard is found in a wide variety of habitats in every county in the state. Its range extends throughout the southeast, from North Carolina to Texas. Contrary to their name, green anoles are not always green. Though not true chameleons, they can change colors from green to gray, brown or tan. The males in most of Florida have a colorful reddish flap of skin attached to their throats. This dewlap, or throat fan, is extended during courtship and territorial displays and is accompanied by head bobbing. In May and June, females lay one or two leathery eggs, 1/4 - 3/8" long, and bury them in moist soil or leaf litter. Hatchlings about 2.5 inches long emerge in approximately six weeks.
Green anoles are active during the day and feed on live insects, including insect eggs and pupae. They are, in turn, eaten by birds, snakes, cats, and occasionally other lizards. As a defense, the anole's tail breaks off easily and continues to thrash about for a short while, distracting predators and giving the anole time to escape. The tail grows back in a few weeks.
About 120 years ago, a Caribbean lizard called the brown anole began to colonize south Florida and Mexico. Today, this non-native is very common in south Florida and in urban areas throughout the Peninsula. It is expanding its range into other southeastern states. The brown anole is similar in size to the green anole, but is never green. Its other distinguishing features include darker spots or bands and a light stripe down the center of the back. The two species share diet and habitat preferences, and scientists are studying the effects of the brown anole on the native green anole populations.