Tag Archives: roseate spoonbill

Protecting Bird Island from Kayakers and Lake Okeechobee Discharges

Bird Island, officially known as MC2, is a “no trespassing zone,” with ten large signs around it stating Critical Wildlife Area or (CWA). Recently, there have been complaints to the Florida Wildlife Commission from Sewall’s Point residents that kayakers have been getting on the island to view the birds flushing them from their nests. Terrible! Exposed chicks and eggs are a delicacy for crows and other predators. Bird Island is a state recognized breeding ground for multiple species of endangered and threatened wading birds. It is protected.

This past Wednesday, April 13, 2021, I accompanied the Florida Wildlife Commission and Martin County to do an official state bird count. There were over 300 birds mid-day and the number of nests will be estimated next week. The sound of the nestlings was unceasing with chicks begging for food as parents chirped and clapped back. Incredible! Chicks were hidden down in the mangroves but older ones were perched outside looking around, looking a lot like their parents. I was told it appeared to be an “average year.” It looked pretty good to me!

Today, I share photos and videos. Hopefully these will quench the thirst of those who may want to break the law. Bird Island can be viewed from outside the sign area, but not inside. FWC law enforcement is increasing visibility in the area and hopefully anyone out and about who sees a disturbance will call 1-888-404-3922. 

The most wonderful thing I learned was that since 2010, when I first met Ricardo Zambrero of FWC and the idea with the Town of Sewall’s Point, Nancy Beaver of Sunshine Wildlife Tours, and Martin County crystalized into a hard fought CWA-designation in 2014 ~ the beautiful pink roseate spoonbills have gone from rookery visitors to successful nesters! Last year over thirty roseate spoonbills were reported on the island, young and mature. I saw many the day of the count. Younger birds are lighter in color and one adult bird I saw sitting on a nest was almost red where body met wings.

This incredible place must be protected from curios visitors, just as we must protect if from polluted discharge waters from Lake Okeechobee!

Thank you FWC.

-Approaching Bird Island off South Sewall’s Point in the Indian River Lagoon-A menagerie of birds! A very diverse crew! Strength in numbers!-Wood storks, and roseate spoonbills-Magnificent frigate birds-Wood storks and frigate birds-Signs are posted around the entire island-Martin County works to protect the island from erosion caused by boat wakes and storms

-Wood storks on nests on black mangroves-Another view. Two large black mangroves died in Hurricane Irma in 2017. A huge loss of habitat.-JTL, SFWMD; Ricard Zambrero & Andrea Peyeyra, FWC; and Mike Yustin, M.C.-A pink rosette spoonbill against a blue sky-I think these are cormorants but they sure look like loons!INCREDIBLE VIDEOS

-Bird Island south side distant and up close

-Roseate Spoonbill flies overhead

-Many types especially wood storks, great egrets, and a juvenile  brown pelican

-Brown pelican flies from island – view of many birds

-East side of island rocks to protect from erosion. Oyster catchers have nested here!

 

-Earlier blog post about Bird Island and diversity of species. 

The Dream of the Roseate Spoonbill, St Lucie River/IRL–Blog Break

Roseate Spoonbill image, public. http://7-themes.com/6946210-roseate-spoonbill.html)
Roseate Spoonbill image, public. (http://7-themes.com/6946210-roseate-spoonbill.html)
Close up of a roseate spoonbill, public photo.
Close up of a wet and happy roseate spoonbill, public photo.

I imagine if there is a dream of the roseate spoonbill, it would be for more water to be on the land…The recent heavy rains and local flooding have been a smorgasbord and reminder of better days for our local shore bird communities.

Last week, while driving by the county jail on Willoughby Boulevard , I witnessed a variety of shore birds in the flooded grasses behind the barbed-wire fence: great egrets, white egrets, blue herons, little blue herons, wood storks, a menagerie of ducks, and four beautiful pink roseate spoonbills!  I got out of my car and peered through the fence….Amazing I thought…”was this area too once wetlands?”

In Sewall’s Point, a group of as many a ten were reported foraging  both along North and South Sewall’s Point Roads. What a sight! People stopping in their cars to see…taking pictures and posting on Facebook.

In the past few years, it has been reported by Martin County and Audubon that the spoonbills are nesting on Bird Island just off the Archipelago in Sewall’s Point. This was never reported before. Nancy Beaver of Sunshine Wildlife Tours documents their progress…

Roseate spoonbills along N Sewall's Point Road, photo Dr Dave Carson, 2013.
Roseate spoonbills along N Sewall’s Point Road, photo courtesy of  Dr Dave Carson, 2015.
Roseate spoonbill photo from my Greg Braun/Bird Island file, 2013.
Roseate spoonbill photo from my Greg Braun/Bird Island file, 2012.

We humans complain when there is flooding; the shore birds love it, as this was their habitat before we drained the lands for agriculture and development. “Couldn’t there be a way to have both?”

This I think would be the dream of the roseate spoonbill…

I will be taking a blog break as this week I will be traveling to Silver Springs with University of Florida’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute, (http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu)
Florida springs, like Florida’s estuaries —–such as the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, are in big trouble. Agriculture and development’s impacts have impaired the springs that were once the symbol of our state tourism industry. Read this 2013 NPR story for more details: (http://www.npr.org/2013/04/13/177105692/before-disney-floridas-silver-springs-lured-tourists)

Have a good week, and when you are driving be sure to look up and see the dream of the roseate spoonbill–it is really the dream of all.