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Birds Vanish Mysteriously from Florida’s Seahorse Key

Cara J

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In the blink of an eye, an island on Florida’s Gulf Coast that was once filled with the chattering of the largest long-standing colony of seabirds and water birds on the coast, Seahorse Key, became silent and barren, left with only broken egg shells scattered on the ground and abandoned nests in trees. The island — a 150-acre mangrove-covered dune and a part of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge — was home to a colony of herons, egrets, ibises, pelicans, cormorants, and others for 30 to 40 years, according to Peter Frederick, a research professor with the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida, a partner with the national refuge system. But in mid-April this year, the birds were gone. “Typically, we have checks on the colony about three or four times during nesting season,” Frederick said. “The colony began nesting in late February and early March, and by mid-April, it was abandoned. And when I say that, I mean completely abandoned. There were no birds at all.” Individuals with the refuge complete annual surveys where they count the birds in order to develop an index of the population. However, this disturbing disappearance was detected [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/birds-vanish-mysteriously-from-floridas-seahorse-key/

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