L.A. LOOKS Wildlife Corner Photo & Article By Barbara Ann Comer The Killdeer is a year-round resident at Lake Ashton. This medium-sized shorebird can be seen walking or running along golf cart paths or flying low in open areas. It is brown and white with two black rings around its neck and has a rusty colored tail. It nests on the ground often close to water. A nest can be easily overlooked, but the parent will put on a convincing "broken wing display" when people or predators are too close attempting to draw attention to itself. Killdeer call vociferously "killdeer, killdeer, killdeer," hence the name. Lake Ashton residents have often put markers around known nest sites to help protect them. Shortly after the chicks are born they are wide-eyed and ready to run. They are a precocial species that spends extra time developing in the egg. These adorable fluff-balls resemble the parents, but only have one ring around the neck. LIVING WITH WILDLIFE There are many types of wildlife at Lake Ashton. During the spring many young animals, including sandhill cranes (also called colts), are seen roaming around Lake Ashton. At times residents may see a baby on its own and think it has been orphaned by its parents. Rarely are animals actually orphaned; the parent may be searching for food or observing its young from a distance. Generally, if you find a baby animal it is best to leave it alone — do not pick them up or remove them from their natural environment. Report wildlife you think may be injured or orphaned to the nearest FWC Regional Office at 863-648-3200. Removing the baby could be dangerous for the baby as well as the person removing. Remember, it is illegal to feed wildlife — even throwing some pieces of old bread in your backyard or pond to feed ducks and birds can cause adverse effects. Feeding wildlife can reduce their fear of humans which may result in aggression and the need for the animal to be removed or killed in order to protect public safety. • Cranes fed by humans can become aggressive toward people and have been known to damage window screens and do other property damage such as scratching at windows. • Cranes attracted to people's yards for feed are put at risk as they walk across roads. Many sandhill cranes are killed each year on Florida roads. • The cranes' diets, which normally are quite diverse, are disrupted when they eat one food item (such as corn), consistently. • Heavy pesticide use in urban lawns also is of concern. Young sandhill cranes have died from pesticide poisoning. • Florida sandhill cranes have an abundance of natural foods (insects and small animals) and they do not need handouts from humans. NATIVE AQUATIC PLANTS Many Floridanative aquatic plant species can be found in the waters of Lake Ashton. These are the most prevalent plant species: Duck Potato, Bulrush, Pickerel Weed, and Spikerush (pictured above, counterclockwise from top left). For the health of our lakes and ponds, these plants are essential. The roles these plants have vary from shoreline stability to filtering unwanted nutrients in the water that could fuel algae blooms. The Lake Ashton CDD contracts a reliable company for nuisance vegetation management. To protect native aquatic plant life, selective herbicides are utilized. Email Matt Fisher at mfisher@lakeashtoncdd.com with any questions or concerns.

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