Indian RIver Lagoon Birds
The assignment was to write something based on an image. We were given a place to get images. I went there and I donated 8 images and then decided to use my own.
When we had the toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee in 2013 all the birds went away. There were no birds.
I used to wake up to 100’s of birds tweeting in my back yard.
I have seen a few interesting red birds and of course mourning doves and I did see the wood stork last week. It’s fall so hopefully they will be back soon. There are some birds but not in the great amounts there were when I moved here.
Here is an interesting article by the Audubon Society.
“A new analysis by the National Audubon Society reveals that populations of some of America’s most familiar and beloved birds have taken a nosedive over the past forty years, with some down as much as 80 percent. The dramatic declines are attributed to the loss of grasslands, healthy forests and wetlands, and other critical habitats from multiple environmental threats such as sprawl, energy development, and the spread of industrialized agriculture. The study notes that these threats are now compounded by new and broader problems including the escalating effects of global warming. In concert, they paint a challenging picture for the future of many common species and send a serious warning about our increasing toll on local habitats and the environment itself.
Common Terns, which nest on islands and forage for fish near ocean coasts, lakes and rivers, are vulnerable to development, pollution and sea level rise from global warming. Populations in unmanaged colonies have dropped as much as 70 percent, making the species’ outlook increasingly dependent on targeted conservation efforts.
Little Blue Herons now number 150,000 in the U.S. and 110,000 in Mexico, down 54 percent in the U.S. Their decline is driven by wetland loss from development and degradation of water quality, which limits their food supply.”
Here is an excellent article I found in BioScience starring out friend Dr Edie Widder.
“Just as fishes in the IRL depend on mangroves and seagrasses, wading birds depend on fishes as prey. Herons, egrets, and their relatives are a barometer of how the lagoon’s mosaic of life is faring, according to ornithologist Hilary Swain, executive director of the Archbold Biological Station in Lake Placid. In her research, Swain found that wading birds are one of the most widely recognized elements of biodiversity in the IRL, with 16 species recorded. Among them are the great egret, reddish egret, little blue heron, tricolored heron, wood stork, white ibis, and roseate spoonbill.
Swain discovered that drawdowns—the periodic lowering of water levels in mosquito control impoundments—result in higher numbers of wading birds in those areas, and that many of the lagoon’s wading birds frequent such impoundments, especially when water levels there are shallow (the easier for the birds to catch fish). Wading birds in the IRL are also found only in locations where, in fact, the fishing is good, making information on herons and their kin useful in determining the overall health of the lagoon.
Mangroves, seagrasses, fishes, birds: How do scientists know how many species there are in the Indian River Lagoon? “We don’t know the exact number,” Tuck Hines says, “but we have a pretty good idea of the IRL’s flora and fauna, thanks to years of research that led to a project called the Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory.”
Developed by the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, the species inventory is an ever-expanding listing of the species of animals and plants that make their home in the lagoon. Users can access photographic images and taxonomic information via a Web site (www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/index.htm). “The IRL Species Inventory has become the place to go to get information on the lagoon’s biodiversity, whether you’re a scientist, student, government official, or citizen,” Hines says. With some 68 federal, state, local, and other government agencies involved in managing the IRL, Hines adds, “it’s imperative that there be one central place in which this information can be found.”
I think we all need to help inventory the Indian River Lagoon and be on the lookout for all the wonderful birds we use to have to see if they come back.
You all come back now you hear?
Hey, we’re neighbors! I live in Vero!!! Nice work on this piece 😊 Glad to have found your blog!
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