Exploring the Everglades – Wading Birds In Decline?
Photo credit: Mac Stone
Last week, the South Florida Water Management District released its annual South Florida Wading Bird Report, and while bird populations in the Glades rise and fall traditionally, this year, the results don’t look good. Repairing the health of the ecosystem is a long-term priority of restoration projects, but in light of these numbers, the effort is more important than ever. The good news is that populations can rebound and that’s great news not only for wildlife enthusiasts, but also the hundreds of exotic birds who call the Everglades home.
Nests Down 28 Percent From Last Year
Scientists at Audubon Florida report that wading bird nesting fell 28 percent over last year, with blue Herons and snowy egrets being hit especially hard. Bird populations help to gauge the overall health of the Everglades and a decline highlights the need to step up the restoration effort. Nesting is core to survival, but there are a variety of challenges making it difficult to nest and fish. Biologists blame last winter's above average rain for the recent decline in wading bird populations. As increased rainfall brings more fish to the area, it becomes more difficult for birds to compete for smaller prey.
Restoration Efforts Are Helping Everglades Wading Birds Rebound
Despite steep declines, current Everglades restoration efforts are having a positive impact, especially in areas where there is inadequate foraging habitat. Just this past week, the Everglades Birding Festival brought wildlife enthusiasts together to see exotic birds that can only be found here in the Everglades, like the snail kite and purple goose hen. The unique South Florida environment is one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal with some of these unforgettable birds.
Exploring the Everglades Is Always a Treat
For bird enthusiasts, winter is by far the best time to visit the Everglades as birds are more active than ever, nesting and finding fish to feed their young. Take a tour through the River of Grass in the early part of the day and the ecosystem comes alive with a wide range of long-legged wading birds and impressive imagery. Not all Everglades wading birds are in decline. In fact, the wood stork - a threatened species - made a surprising comeback with higher than expected numbers this year.
For information on how to schedule a private tour through the Everglades or to learn more about our family friendly adventures, visit us at www.evergladesholidaypark.com.
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