Florida's Green Swamp, east of Polk City. It flows west, then north, and then turns northwest and finally west again before it empties into the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown. The river is 86 miles long and has a drainage basin of 1,170 square miles. "Withlacoochee" probably stems from a Muskhogean dialect. It is compounded of Creek we (water), thlako (big), and chee (little), or little big water. This word combination signifies little river in the Creek language, and as we-lako or wethlako may also refer to a lake, it may signify a river of lakes, or lake river.
A wide variety of wildlife lives along the shore or in the Withlacoochee River including the short tailed hawk seen here. The Short-tailed Hawk is a small hawk of grass and woodland habitat in Florida and it occurs in two color morphs. The light phase is dark above and white below; the dark phase (more common in Florida) is black above and below except for the light bases of the primaries. Both phases have banded, black-and-white tail, yellow cere, and yellow legs and feet. Immatures are like adults, but with more numerous tail bands. The rare and wary short-tailed hawk is easily identified in either color phase, as it is the only hawk in the area that is pure black or pure white below. Although not designed for speed, the Short-tailed Hawk is a habitual bird hunter, preying on medium-sized birds of open country, such as Eastern Meadowlarks and Red-Winged Blackbirds.