WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Officials say unseasonable rainfall and poor conditions caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon contributed to a poor wading bird nesting season in Florida’s Everglades.
The South Florida Water Management District reported this week that roughly 26,680 nests were counted across the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee from December 2015 to July 2016.
The report noted that roseate spoonbill nesting shifted over the last five years from small islands within Florida Bay to the mainland. Officials said those islands might be losing habitat suitable for nesting. They also said it’s possible fewer mammals such as raccoons are threatening nests on the mainland because invasive Burmese pythons are eating those animals.
The district oversees Everglades restoration. Audubon Florida Deputy Director Julie Hill-Gabriel said the poor nesting count shows the urgency of fast-tracking those efforts.
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