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pair of osprey
Photo Credit: Meaghan Manning

Joe Budd has a variety of wildlife indigenous to the flatwoods and sandy upland areas of panhandle Florida. Alligatorsgopher tortoiseswhite-tailed deer and wild turkey are common. Joe Budd has excellent habitat for both the federally threatened Eastern indigo snake and the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, although neither of these species has been documented on the area.

The combination fishing pier/wildlife observation platform at Lake Talquin, a Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail site, is an excellent spot to observe wading birds, osprey, and perhaps bald eagles. A 20-acre pond is stocked for fishing opportunities. Visitors may hear a variety of warblers, including the black-and-white warblerprothonotary warblerpalm warbler, and Kentucky warbler, in the pine-oak forests during spring and fall migration. Birds will also see Bachman's sparrows, swallowed-tailed kites and kestrels on the WMA.

Check out other species recorded from Joe Budd WMA, or add observations of your own, by visiting the Joe Budd WMA Nature Trackers project.

Add your bird observations to the Joe Budd WMA eBird Hotspot.

Wildlife Spotlight: Bluegill

Admired by anglers for its feisty nature and delicate, tasty flesh, bluegill are found in springs, streams, rivers and lakes in Florida. A dark “ear” (operculum) covering and a blotch at the back bottom edge of the dorsal fin are distinguishing features of adults. Rows of darker vertical bands are usually visible, but body color is variable depending on age, sex and breeding status. Colors range from a light olive to gray in juveniles and non-breeding adults, to a darker blue or purple in breeding males.

Bluegill are well known for "bedding" in large groups (30 or more is not unusual), with their circular beds touching one another. Bedding occurs in water two to six feet deep, over sand, shell or gravel and often among plant roots when the bottom is soft. Spawning occurs from April through October and peaks in May and June. Insects and their larvae make up the bulk of the bluegill’s diet.

Bluegill are abundant, making them very popular with anglers and a great first fish for kids. Anglers find that live crickets or worms are effective baits. A small inline spinner is a good artificial lure. Their tiny mouths require small hooks (#6-10). Adult bluegill average 6 to 10 inches in length and weigh 0.2 to 1.0 pounds. The state record is 2.95 pounds.

Artwork Credit: Duane Raver/USFWS

Artwork Credit: Duane Raver/USFWS