Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Mid-winter in South Florida is for the birds, and no, I'm not merely referring to the snow birds: the human migrants that join us each year and thus avoid the snow and ice of northern winters. I'm referring to the feathered variety. While South Florida has long been known as a place to see beautiful birds, often in spectacular concentrations, there's a time component to this show and the time is now. South Florida has distinct wet and dry seasons. The wet season we know all too well extends from May to November, bringing summer lightning, mosquitoes, and hurricanes. The dry season, from November through April, brings more sunshine and lowered water levels in canals, swamps, and lakes. As water levels recede, fish and other aquatic animals become more and more concentrated, making it easier for predators such as alligators, otters, and herons and egrets, kingfishers, cormorants, anhingas, ospreys, and bald eagles to catch a meal. This is the time of year these animals fatten up. The concentrated food supplies created by an annual cycle of lowered water levels in winter mean healthy wildlife and the possibility of a very successful breeding season.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.