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With the Wild Things
Weekdays @ 7:20 AM

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With the Wild Things is hosted by wildlife biologist Dr. Jerry Jackson and produced by the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts & Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Funded by the Environmental Education Grant Program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, With the Wild Things is a one-minute look at a particular environmental theme.

Dr. Jackson takes you through your backyard, and Southwest Florida’s beaches, swamps and preserves to learn about “the wild things”.

Latest Episodes
  • Wild Turkeys have the word “wild” in their name to distinguish them from the birds that have been domesticated for centuries and bred for their meat and feathers. Florida is one of the prime native homes for Wild Turkeys although they now occur in almost every state as a result of introductions and other conservation efforts. They also occur naturally well into Latin America – where the first domesticated turkeys were found by early explorers and taken back to Europe. There were so few that they were not regularly eaten, but kept for special occasions – such as our Thanksgiving and other holidays. Wild Turkeys are related to pheasants, quails, and yes, even jungle fowl (the wild ancestors of our chickens). Males are easily distinguished from females by the black tips of breast and back feathers on males and brown to buff tips of the same feathers of females. Males are also generally larger than females. Males have spurs on their back of their legs; females only occasionally have spurs.
  • Seagrape is a small evergreen tree with very big round leaves – leaves that are thick and that are reddish brown with red veins as they begin to grow, then mature as green leaves with red veins. These trees are native to the Caribbean areas and shores bordering the Caribbean – but are now planted in yards throughout warmer regions. These are also trees of the sun; they don’t do well in the shade. Ivory white flowers bloom in spring and by August have produced nearly inch diameter fruits that were green at first, but gradually turn an off shade of purple. The name of the tree comes from the fruits that grow in a grape-like cluster from branch trips. The fruit is edible when purple and picked from a tree. Each has a single large seed inside. Seagrape jelly is well worth a try. Seagrape is widely planted near seashores to help reduce erosion and, as a result of its usefulness, is protected by Florida law. Seagrape trees also help sea turtles by blocking lights that disorient hatchlings on their way to the sea.
  • Cattle Egrets are native to southern Africa, but for more than half a century they have been dramatically expanding their range. These small white egrets, with a pale rust-colored crest and breast, naturally followed grazing animals in Africa, but now can be found around much of the world – following grazing wildlife, but also cattle, horses, tractors, and lawnmowers. They became common in North America in the 1950s.
  • Orb-weaving spiders are those spiders that create webs in which flying or falling insects are captured. Many, such as the Banded Garden Spider, the Golden-silk Orb-weaver, and the tiny Orchard Spider are active during the day, some, such as the Tropical Orb Weaver are primarily active at night. Most create a new web each day. If you have a wooded area, you can often go out shortly after dark with a flashlight and find Tropical Orb-weavers as they begin to create their web for the evening. By morning the web is gone and the Tropical Orb-weaver is in hiding among dense vegetation.
  • Echolocation is second nature to animals such as bats and dolphins. Can humans also find their way using sound as a tool?
  • The Solitary Sandpiper is solitary in multiple ways. It does not usually mix in with other sandpipers on our beaches. It is often found by itself or with one or two other Solitary Sandpipers in muddy ditches, or fallow agricultural fields with shallow pools of water. It also is solitary in its choice of a nest site: it adopts an old nest of a songbird high in a tree in boreal forests.