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Nature lover keeps tabs on wildlife of suburbs

For one Realtor, looking for critters in his subdivision has become a hobby. A hummingbird is a regular visitor.

© St. Petersburg Times
published July 19, 2002

COUNTRYWAY -- Jim Sacarello makes his living selling houses.

But wildlife is passion, and he's stumbled onto some, even in suburbia.

For three years in a row, Sacarello says the same hummingbird has come to visit. It arrives during the same week in May, at about 6 a.m. or at 6 p.m., to feed on the aloe vera plants in Sacarello's Countryway garden.

"I always remember what I was doing at the time he comes," said Sacarello, 38, who lives in Countryway's Lakes subdivision. "This year, in the afternoon, I was relaxing in my backyard with my family. I got up early to catch it at 6 a.m. with my camera.'

The self-described animal lover then posted his pictures, alongside photos of houses for sale, on the Web site

"To get the photos enter the Web site, then scroll down to the section called, 'Take an online tour of homes for sale right now' and click on the first red highlighted words marked 'click here,"' Sacarello said.

Sacarello's sightings are not that unusual in Florida in May, said Alex Kropp, a biologist with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. "A lot of ruby-throated hummingbirds are common in the Tampa Bay area and will return to the same spot each year to feed," Kropp said. He said there are nine species of hummingbirds.

Sacarello, an area Realtor for Re/Max Top Notch Associates, has always had an interest in animals. It has only grown since his Tampa childhood.

"I have a home on a pond and I'm part of the adopt-a-pond program in the area," he said. Along with carefully tending the pond, the animal-watching homeowner constructed small bridges and flotation devices for turtles and other wildlife to enjoy in the pond. "It took awhile, but we love watching the animals rest there," he said.

Sacarello's love of all things wild doesn't stop there.

Surrounded by trees and grass-lined acreage, off Countryway Boulevard, the subdivision has long been known for wild boar and bobcat sightings. Sacarello hopes to capture these creatures on video.

"You might say it's my biggest hobby," he said. "But I haven't found them yet."

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