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Annual Wading Bird Report Shows Steep Nesting Decline

South Florida Wading Bird Report documents lowest nesting count since 2008

For Immediate Release

Contact: Julie Hill-Gabriel, Audubon Florida’s Deputy Director, (786) 246-2903,
Audubon Fact Sheet:
Twitter: @AudubonFL

MIAMI (March 7, 2017) – Yesterday afternoon, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) released its annual South Florida Wading Bird Report. It reported the lowest wading bird nesting count since 2008.

Compared to the 10-year average in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem:

  • White Ibis nesting was down 45 percent;
  • Wood Stork nesting was down 38 percent;
  • Snowy Egret nesting was down 51 percent;
  • Little Blue Heron nesting was down 61 percent;
  • Tricolored Heron nesting was down 16 percent;
  • Great Egret nesting was down 7 percent; and
  • Roseate Spoonbill nesting up 20 percent overall but mainly in inland areas.

“Wading birds are the messengers of the Everglades. Through 2016’s low wading bird nesting count and the eighth consecutive year of below average nesting, the birds are telling us that speeding up Everglades restoration is an urgent priority,” said Julie Hill-Gabriel, Audubon Florida’s deputy director. "Restoring the Everglades will make habitat more resilient for rare birds like Wood Storks and Snowy Egrets."

Destroying wetlands and altering the Everglades for flood control and water supply have reduced the amount of quality foraging habitat available to wading birds. Nesting of wading birds naturally fluctuated in the Everglades. But draining the Everglades has made it more difficult for populations to bounce back from poor nesting efforts. Wading birds have not had a strong nesting season in almost a decade. Everglades restoration projects are not being constructed fast enough to stem the decline of key indicator species.

“This year’s report compounds the urgency for Everglades restoration,” said Julie Hill-Gabriel, Audubon Florida’s deputy director. “Key restoration projects must be built faster than the current schedule to benefit the Everglades before declines in wading bird populations hit an irreversible tipping point.”


For more information, visit Audubon Florida’s fact sheet on the South Florida Wading Bird Report.

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