May 16, 2019

SFWMD Report: Record-Setting Wading Bird Nesting Season
More nests found in 2018 than any year since comprehensive surveying began due to favorable weather conditions and environmentally-minded water management decisions 

A wood stork nests at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands near Delray Beach. Click on the image to read the South Florida Wading Bird report detailing nesting activity by birds like wood storks in South Florida between December 2017 and July 2018.

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.  - The 2018 wading bird nesting season was one of the largest on record, according to the annual South Florida Wading Bird Report released today by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) . SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett and Avian Biologist Dr. Mark Cook were joined by Audubon Florida Executive Director Julie Wraithmell and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Regional Director Dr. Tom Reinert to announce the historic nesting success at Wakodahatchee Wetlands this morning.

"Today's news gives us tremendous hope because wading birds are indicator species. They show us that if the Greater Everglades Ecosystem has the right amount of water at the right times, it can rebound," Bartlett said. "Gov. Ron DeSantis has made expediting Everglades restoration a top priority for Florida, and his strong investments in restoration are the right path forward to protect Florida's water resources."

The report, which details wading bird nesting activity between December 2017 and July 2018, found nearly 140,000 wading bird nests in South Florida, of which 122,000 nests were found in the Everglades. The number of Everglades nests found was by far the largest nesting seen in the last 80 years and compares to some of the largest nesting events ever recorded in the 1930s. Nesting activity for birds like the roseate spoonbill, wood stork and white ibis far exceeded their averages for the past 10 years.

SFWMD Avian Biologist Dr. Mark Cook attributed this record-setting wading bird nesting activity to both favorable weather conditions including record rainfall in 2017 and to water management decisions that were made to protect the environment such as moving water to key nesting areas in the Everglades. 

SFWMD partners with stakeholders including Audubon Florida to produce the South Florida Wading Bird Report every year, detailing the nesting season that typically runs from December to July of each year.

Media Kit Available for Download

For more updates on SFWMD's work:
Media Contact: 
Randy Smith |   rrsmith@sfwmd.gov    |  Office: (561)-682-6197 | Cell: 561-389-3386
The South Florida Water Management District is a regional governmental agency that manages the water resources in the southern part of the state. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts. Our mission is to  safeguard and restore South Florida's water resources and ecosystems, protect our communities from flooding, and meet the region's water needs while connecting with the public and stakeholders.

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