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image for Audubon paints the willet in the Florida Keys and Key West

A Guide to John Audubon's visit to the Florida Keys 

 

 

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Florida Keys
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AUDUBON IN THE FLORIDA KEYS


 

 

INDEX

  
AUDUBON


INDIAN KEY
1832


CORMORANT


ROSEATE
TERN


GRAY
KINGBIRD


REDDISH
EGRET


LOUISIANA
HERON


SANDY KEY


WHITE IBIS


WILLET

 
ZENAIDA
DOVE


WHITE
CROWNED
PIGEON


THE AUDUBON HOUSE IN
KEY WEST


AUDUBON'S
KEY WEST


KEY WEST AFTER
AUDUBON


ROSEATE
SPOONBILL


GREAT
WHITE
HERON


GREAT
BLUE
HERON


KEY WEST
DOVE


FLAMINGOS


BLUE-
HEADED
QUAIL DOVE


FRIGATE BIRD


BROWN
PELICAN


MANGROVE
CUCKOO


TORTUGAS


SOOTY
TERN


BLACK
HEADED GULL


BROWN
NODDY


CAYENNE
TERN


BROWN
BOOBY


SANDWICH
TERN


NIGHT
HERON


GREENSHANK


GREAT
MARBLED
GODWIT


MANGO
HUMMING-
BIRD


TROPIC
BIRD




BIRDING

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John Audubon visits the Duck Keys
and observes the Semipalated Snipe or Willet

 

map of Florida Keys and Key West

April 30 to May 4, 1832 - Audubon sails from Indian Key , to Key West - The journey takes 5 days, rather than usual day and a half in length. Audubon's trip takes longer because he makes a number of stops along the way. He stops at Vaca Key, the bahia-honda Duck Keys, and numerous other mangrove islands along the way.

 

On May 1, 1832 Audubon stops at the Duck Keys


Semipalated Snipe or Willet.

Audubon painting of willet from Birds of America

 

"The males are smaller than the females. I have presented you with figures of the adult both in the winter and summer plumage."

In a reference in his Ornithological Biography, Vol. III, p. 510, Audubon writes that he visited the Duck Keys. However his account is not about a "duck" or Cormorant found on Duck Key and which many believe gave the island its name. Rather, Audubon's account is about another bird, the Semipalated Snipe or Willet.

 

"On the 1st of May 1832, while rambling over some large and partially submersed islets of the Floridas called Duck Keys (Duck Key, the Tom's Harbor Islands, and possibly other small islets now join by the Overseas Highway) scantily covered with bushes and some mangroves, I saw a good number of these birds (The Semipalated Snipe or Willet) in company with the Great Marbled Godwit. . The willets were all paired and very clamorous, although we found none of their nests. To my great surprise, I saw them alight on the bushes and trees with as much ease as if they had been land birds, standing erect, open their wings to the sun, and await our approach, exhibiting, when thus perched, much less shyness than when on the ground. . . . A few days after my visit to the Duck Keys, some nests containing eggs were found on other islets not far distant. . . "
. . .

"The flight of this species is strong, rapid, and greatly protracted its movements on wing greatly resemble those of the Oyster-catcher, and unless during breeding season, are performed low over the waters. they seldom rise without emitting their usual notes, which resemble the syllables will-wilet, or will, will, willet, and are different from the softer and more prolonged whistling notes which they emit during the love season. . . ."

 

The Willets retire to the interior of the larger salt-marshes for the purpose of forming their nests and raising their broods in security. There, in the vicinity of the shallow pools, which frequently occur in such -places, the birds prepare a nest on the ground, among the rank grass, of which the tenement itself is composed. It's usually raised to the height of from three to five inches, and is , I believe, annually augmented or repaired. . . . The eggs afford excellent eating. . . . "

 

Historical accounts speak of salt ponds located on the island called Duck Key sometime in the 1830s and records indicate that human inhabitants - the Howe family worked the salt ponds sometime during that period. Audubon makes no reference to meeting anyone when he stopped to explore the "Duck" Keys, so it seems likely that the salt ponds were not constructed on Duck Key during the time of Audubon's visit and the island was inhabited after 1832.

Audubon earlier painted the cormorant after visiting some mangrove island near Indian Key on April 26, 1832.

 


DUCK KEY

Click on picture taken at Duck Key  for larger image of White Ibises.

Shown in the background are some of the villas which are part of the Hawk's Cay Resort and Inn. For information about this upscale destination resort and reservations click on a link below.

RESERVATIONS

Both links below: Hawks cay Resort and Duck Key Vacation Rentals at Hawks Cay provide access to all the same amenities, pools, etc

The difference is that the rooms and villas booked through Hawks Cay Resort have met certain criteria ( furnishings, soft goods, flat screen tv, etc) to be included in the "Preferred" Hotels and Resorts group.
. Hawks Cay Resort - for both rooms at the Inn and "preferred" villas
61 Hawks Cay Blvd
Duck Key, FL 33050 .Duck Key Vacation Rentals at Hawks Cay Resort
51 Hawks Cay Boulevard

Duck Key Vacation Rental only provides villas not rooms at the Inn. Villas meet standards established by Hawks Cay, but furnishings, etc. are not identical as in a "preferred" Villa. Rates for Vacation Rental villas will be less than a comparable size preferred villa.

 

There are several resort fishing guides that will take patrons to nearby mangrove islands for birding and to the Arsnicker Keys ( White Pelicans) and to Sandy Key for birding.

Hawk's Cay Resort is recognized as a premier destination resort and child-friendly vacation paradise which offers a schedule of organized children's activities throughout the day. The resort is in heart of the Keys and located within driving distance for day trips of many attractions. Watersports, boat rentals, jet skiing, parasailing, sailing, snorkeling, glass bottom, eco-tours, fishing charters and tennis available to all. Snuba Ranger diving instruction for children, biking, kayaking are activities available only to patrons of the resort.

Hawk's Cay 177 Inn room accommodations and about 220 family villas. The two bedroom vacation villa accommodations provides the resort with the occupancy necessary for providing a quality family oriented resort.

 

Additional information about the Willet may be found by following the link below to the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas. The Atlas, a collaborative effort of Audubon of Florida, the Florida Ornithological Society, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission provides information of general status, habitat, and status of  breeding species in Florida

http://wildflorida.org/bba/WILL.htm

 

 
 

 

   

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