Audubon Florida News

Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, and Pelicans on Lake Okeechobee

cloud of spoonbillsAudubon’s Jane Graham reports on her latest adventure on Lake Okeechobee with Dr. Paul Gray:

Last week our tour of Lake Okeechobee was one for the books. We saw pink clouds of Roseate Spoonbills, with White Pelicans and a few Wood Storks in the mix. I have never seen so many Roseate Spoonbills at the same time, and even Dr. Gray was impressed!

gallinulenestWhy the plethora of birds? It is the end of the dry season. As water levels are getting shallow, it creates perfect foraging conditions for wading birds, including Roseate Spoonbills.

We also saw areas with torpedograss, an invasive plant that grows aggressively in monocultures on the Lake. Fortunately, since 2004, the South Florida Water Management District has treated 45,000 acres (about 70 square miles!) for torpedograss and while there still are large areas of this grass, they are making progress tackling this invader. Birds on the Lake have responded and are enjoying the habitat.
group shot lake okie

Here’s a group shot of us in a torpedograss patch. (left)

As we drove back, we saw nests of a Common Gallinule (pictured above) and Red-winged Blackbird, and some exotic Purple Swamp Hens who appear to be increasing in population in the lake.

Mitch Hutchcraft,  a new SFWMD Governing Board member, Jeff Sumner, SFWMD, and Henrietta Armstrong, King Ranch, joined us.

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