Earlier this week, I went out with Beverly and Allie in our research department to check the ABC Islands Critical Wildlife Area for nesting birds. These islands are posted and protected by a 300-foot buffer area, and our staff has a special permit issued by FWC to enter this area. Using binoculars, we saw great blue herons, pelicans, anhingas and more! While boating around the outside of the islands we saw evidence of cormorants nesting and also saw several blue heron nests. On one of the islands we could also see that there was fishing line caught in the tree canopy so we carefully removed the line. Fishing line is a threat to birds because they can become entangled and die.
While we were on the island we discovered cormorant chicks! That was a first for me and there was a range of ages, with some already having feathers and some with only down. There were at least 11 nests that we could see on the island. Also we saw one anhinga nest, with chicks that looked like beige blobs. Throughout most of the year we have several species nesting at the ABC Islands. These mangrove islands are an important place for colonial wading birds to raise their young, away from mainland predators. While we were there, we approximately two hundred fish crows roosting on the island. Fish crows will eat eggs and small chicks. While they look similar to American crows their calls are different. Along with watching the small chicks we also counted the number of birds of each species on the islands and looked for banded birds. Right before we left we also saw a male magnificent frigate bird resting on the island! It was a very good day.
Dita O'Boyle, Education Specialist