August 28th, 2008 posted by: JoNell at 4:08 PM
Audubon of Florida announced today that the first of the season’s painted buntings, North America's most colorful songbirds, have returned to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary from their summer breeding grounds. The arrival of these brightly colored blue, green and red birds, along with the Sanctuary’s rare Ghost Orchid, is providing visitors to Corkscrew with two very different, but equally spectacular viewing opportunities.
My counterpart at Audubon of Florida, Timothy Grand, said, "Seeing either one of these sights, and especially both on the same day, is definitely a ‘whoa, that was cool’ experience.”
An adult male Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) is arguably the most distinctive songbird in North America, with the combination of a deep blue head, red underparts, a green back, and a red rump. While not as brightly colored as males, female Painted Buntings are also distinctive. The female has an overall greenish plumage which is more darkly colored above than below. The number of painted buntings has shown a significant decline across its entire range during the past 35 years. The exact causes for painted bunting's decline are not known, but they are believed to include habitat loss particularly due to coastal development in its breeding range, cowbird parasitism, and trapping for the pet trade on its wintering grounds
The ghost orchid (Polyrrhiza lindenii) is an extremely rare, epiphytic orchid that grows without leaves on the trunks of trees in a small concentrated area of Southwest Florida. The plants are usually only visible to intrepid adventurers who must hike through hip deep water in the area’s cypress, pop ash and pond apple sloughs to reach them. The ghost orchid, preyed upon by poachers, was the subject of bestselling author Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief and the subsequent movie Adaptation.