From the sparrow’s point of view, the more invertebrates, the merrier.  Cape Sable Seaside Sparrows rely on invertebrates of all kinds–anything from spiders to crickets to dragonflies–for food for themselves and their young.  You can see changes in invertebrate abundance reflected in the sparrows’ clutch sizes: when the pickings aren’t as good (usually early season), sparrows tend to lay 2-3 egg clutches, but with rain and more food, we see a shift to 4-egg nests.

For this post, I’d like to showcase some of the invertebrates I’ve encountered in my field mornings with the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow.  (This includes non-sparrow-food invertebrates.)  I’ve identified those that I could, but feel free to comment on our Facebook page if you know what some of the more mysterious invertebrates are!

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Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers (pictured above as silhouettes, and below) are large and incredibly striking insects.  From a distance, it’s easy to mistake a grasshopper for a sparrow, since both perch high on blades of sawgrass.  Earlier in the season, the lubbers were black with yellow and red accents (pictured on left), but they’ve now all morphed into their orange adult forms (right).  They also often manage to find unattended field gear.  A few weeks ago, I came back from territory-mapping a bird just in time to stop one from climbing into the top pocket of my backpack.


I’ve become quite skilled at battling deer flies while using binoculars, but they are still a big pain to deal with.  About a month ago, I felt renewed gratitude towards spiders as I saw one pounce on an unsuspecting deer fly that had stumbled into its web.


On one of my first days in the Everglades, I was surprised to find a blade of sawgrass piercing through an old Seminole rams-horn shell.  I never thought I would see a “snail kebab” again, but I’ve since come across dozens more.

Seminole Rams-horn (Planorbella duryi)

In addition to the Seminole rams-ho