Roseate Spoonbills, one of the most iconic and recognizable birds of Florida have recently received some encouraging press from Audubon Everglades Scientists in Florida Bay. After last year’s disastrous breeding season, it seems the beautiful birds are showing some positive signs of return.
But [Roseate Spoonbill] its striking appearance is not why National Audubon Society scientists like Jerry Lorenz have spent nearly 80 years monitoring the bird’s habits in a shallow bay wedged between the southern the Everglades and the Florida Keys.
The spoonbill, which nests on mangrove islands, serves as something of a flying barometer of the health of the bay and the Everglades system that flows into it. So a sudden, mysterious plunge in nesting last year to the lowest numbers in more than a half century had Lorenz and fellow scientists anxious about what might unfold this year.
The prognosis midway through breeding season: Spoonbills are back — though still in numbers far too small to suggest its future is rosy in the bay.
“I’m encouraged,’’ said Lorenz, after snaking through mangroves to check spoonbill nests on an island near Audubon’s research lab in Tavernier. “Last year, we had a massive abandonment of Florida Bay and I have no idea why. I’m hoping it was just a weird blip.’’