Everglades Roseate Spoonbill nests decrease

This is the third in my series on how Everglades Restoration would change the wildlife and landscape of South Florida’s River of Grass: A 2010 study overlooked by the media shows that the overall number of Roseate Spoonbill nests in the Everglades watershed was more than 60 percent lower than wildlife officials had set as a threshold for the Spoonbill’s recovery at the time. A copy of the report can be found here on the Web page for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (SFERTF).

The number of Spoonbill nests were much lower in the NE Florida Bay area of the watershed, meaning the species “is in jeopardy” there.

Roseate Spoonbill, Photo Credit: FWC.

The number of Spoonbill nests were much lower in the NE Florida Bay area of the watershed, meaning the species “is in jeopardy” there. The report conducted by SFERTF looks at eleven key indicator species (including the Roseate Spoonbill) and examines two years of scientific data to show how each species is doing in the Everglades, and attempts to pinpoint reasons for success or failure. SFERTF is comprised of federal, state, tribal, and local government representatives.

The only area where the Roseate Spoonbills are doing well, compared to historic nesting data, is northwest Florida Bay, where less water management control and development has less of a strain on the natural environment.

“Northeastern Florida Bay is in need of immediate action in order to keep spoonbill numbers from continuing to decline,” the report reads.

The study uses nest counts as recent as 2009 and 2010, before recent drought conditions, a drought which may have further imperiled the Spoonbill’s nesting activity.

“Although the northeast colonies have performed well over the last four years, the average productivity in this region is still well below production rates observed in the northwestern colonies,” according to the SFERTF study. “The number of nests in the northeastern bay remained very low in 2007 with only 90 nests out of a target of 688 nests in this region.”

There are several possible factors for decreased nesting, most factors related to issues of water management, development, and an increase in invasive flora and fauna.

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