Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

Everglades Wading Birds Nesting in Trouble

Something is wrong! Florida’s wading birds are moving from their historic nesting locations because the water is not right! Wood Storks are nesting at the Jacksonville Zoo. Roseate Spoonbills are suddenly showing up in  local ponds.

A recent South Florida Water Management District report indicates more troubling news for the iconic birds of the Everglades. 

The District’s annual South Florida Wading Bird Report <>  provides an overview of wading bird nesting efforts across the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. An indicator of ecosystem health, wading bird populations are a central component of evaluating Everglades restoration efforts. Numerous ecologists contribute data from all corners of the ecosystem, which is compiled to evaluate overall nesting effort with notes on long and short-term trends.

Audubon’s 2012 Wading Bird Nesting in the Everglades Fact Sheet outlines their summary of a few report components, including a status of nesting Roseate Spoonbills in Florida Bay and Wood Storks at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary provided by Audubon scientists. January to December 2012 was the third consecutive year of relatively poor nesting effort across the Everglades, with success better in some regions and among certain species than others.

Here are some more highlights:  

The 2012 season at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the Western Everglades marked the third in a row where

Wood Storks did not nest in this historical colony, which until recently has consistently been the largest in the U.S.   A prolonged drought cycle combined with wetland losses in Southwest Florida have contributed to the poor nesting success.

Lake Okeechobee can support more than 10,000 wading bird nests when conditions are favorable, and several

thousand in average years.  In 2012 there were 16 colonies in and around the lake with close to the long  term (median) average of about 3,000 nests excluding Cattle Egrets. Unfortunately, almost all nests for all species failed, likely because of the low prey densities as a result of extremely low lake and marsh levels throughout the

preceding summer.   

Florida Audubon is working on several initiatives to help ameliorate the situation.  Stay tuned for more info on this problematic development and ways you can help.