2012 End of Season Report

2012 End of Season Report

Photo by Jill Carney

This year’s rookery season started out strong after a mild winter.  The Great egrets, always the first to arrive, made their initial appearance almost two weeks early. The season was off to a good start and the possibility of our biggest rookery season yet seemed probable.  The arrivals of Tropical Storm Beryl on May 27th and Debby on June 27th dampened our hopes and the rookery’s mood.

The Little Blue herons, Roseate spoonbills, and Wood storks were most affected by the storms since their chicks were young and these species are extra-sensitive to environmental conditions.  Little Blues and Roseates are both listed as Species of Special Concern in Florida; Wood storks are federally listed as Endangered. The storms disturbed their foraging and breeding sites, degraded feeding habitats, and reduced prey availability.  These issues were significant enough for these three species, but not for the remaining of the wading birds.

The Great egret chicks also appear to have been affected in the chart below, but most of their chicks were large enough and had begun to fledge.  Overall, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm’s rookery had a good season and we look forward to 2013!

Cattle egret 250 232 154 94 118
Great egret 148 130 127 127 52
Green heron 5 4 5 2 3
Little Blue heron 33 26 48 11 27
Roseate spoonbill 30 14 24 14 12
Snowy egret 264 153 153 153 130
Tricolored heron 100 73 148 148 97
Wood stork 129 72 124 110 73
TOTALS: 959 704 783 659 512