Photo essay: ‘Trampus naturalis’ — the bird’s guide to humans in the landscape

Florida has a wide variety of species

A towhee enjoys people watching. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Many species of Homo sapiens are found in Florida, a hot spot for people watching. Though the count of permanent residents is on the rise, huge numbers of migrants or occasional visitors also appear, especially in winter and spring.

The following are examples commonly seen:

H. migratorious

Examples of H. migratorious abound on area beaches. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Congregate on the coasts and in theme parks around Orlando, from late fall through spring. Found in condos, gated communities, McMansions, trailer parks, campgrounds. Arrive in droves after Thanksgiving. Height of migration: January through April. Depart for the North starting April 1. Field marks: plastic water bottles, sunglasses, cell phones. The winter dress is shorts, T-shirts and sandals.

H. oceanitis

A coastal breed. Ninety percent of Homo sapiens are found within 10 miles of the coast. In winter, migrants predominate; in summer, permanent residents. On beaches, often accompanied by young, they sit, walk, swim, read, exercise, talk on cell phones, apply sunscreen. Field marks: beach chairs, umbrellas, coolers, noodles, beach towels.

Gulls observe examples of H. oceanitis. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Subspecies: Solus setus

Members of the Happy Hour crowd on West Coast beaches carry cell phones to record the “green flash” that occurs rarely. Clap when the sun disappears beneath the horizon, leave and miss the afterglow.

Subspecies: Stoopus shellii

Terns share Nokomis Beach with a member of the Stoopus shellii subspecies. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

A common wader on area beaches. Picks up shells, which get deposited in yards, glass lamps and coffee tables.

Subspecies: Stoopus metalicus.

Very early in the mornings, sifts sand on area beaches. Field marks: metal detectors, long-handled sieves and plastic bags.

Subspecies: Groupus exercisis 

Members of the subspecies Groupus exercisis display identifying features on this beach. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Congregate on beaches in circles, bums in the air.

H. hikus

Move briskly, talking on cell phones, text messaging. Field marks: L.L.Bean backpacks, water bottles, GPS systems, maps, walking sticks, ski poles (northern variety).

Subspecies: H. racemosa

Move very quickly, oblivious to surroundings. Disappear ’round the bend before you have time to see them. Field marks: nylon, Mylar, mileage armbands, fanny packs.

H. bikus

Two species: motorized and pedaled. Former is loud; latter is quiet but aggressive, especially in groups. Stop over at watering holes out east. Field marks: motorcycles, state-of-the-art bicycles, including recumbent modals. Another species, highly endangered, bikes to work and to shop.

H. doggus

Picks up poop under scrutiny but when alone, lets dogs off leash.

Trystus amorensis

The prospect of some afternoon delight pulls them into parks, back streets and far corners of mall parking lots. Field marks: van with the engine running and the windows closed.

Trampus botanica

This example of Trampus naturalis is examining a lichen under a lens. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Uncommon. Field marks: all of the above plus magnifying lens, field guides, small notebooks and pencils. Found in small groups in fields, forested areas, wetlands. Very slow moving. Distinguished by their calls: “What’s this?” A rare subspecies: Trampus insectivorous: Turn over logs. Pick up bugs. Field marks: nets, magnifying glasses, Mason jars.

Trampus audubonis

Some members of the Trampus audubonis species use binoculars. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Widespread winter/spring. Seen at dawn at parks, beaches, rights of way, landfills. Binoculars, spotting scopes, cell phones playing birdcalls set this breed apart. Often stationary, staring off into the distance. Point a lot. Consult among themselves. Some make notes on little scraps of paper.

Touris speedis

A winter/spring visitor. Speeds through parks and other natural places to say they have been there. Field marks: Jeeps, Hummers and Cadillacs with rolled-up, tinted windows.

H. pescadillus 

This blue heron keeps an eye on an example of H. pescadillus. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

All year throughout the state. Stand in shallow water, line up on jetties, hang over bridges by lakes and streams inland. Field marks: poles, nets, buckets, coolers, beer cans. Others motorboat 60 miles out. Record catches on cell phones.

H. aquatica

In powerboats on the water and infrequently, sailboats. Field marks: Topsiders, sunburn. Frequent dockside restaurants. Drop anchor, line up overnight.

H. campus

Found throughout the year in campgrounds. Many drive huge campers towing small cars. Congregate under awnings by their campers, drinking beer, watching TV. Field marks: gas canisters, grills, tents (infrequently).

Trampus naturalis

This example of Trampus naturalis enjoys a stroll along a sandy road in the center of the state. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Uncommon. Often solitary. Walk sandy back roads, move through dense canopy, climb over saw palmetto, wade swamps. Field marks: old clothes, sunhats, skin covered with insect bites and scratches, cameras.

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