Will This Florida Spoonbill Have a Pristine Nesting Area Next Month?

© 2010 by Michael A. Pancier

This roseate spoonbill was photographed a few weeks ago by yours truly in the Tampa Bay area. The spoonbill has been my favorite bird for as long as I have been a nature photographer.  These birds nest along the mangrove islands and shorelines all along Florida's Gulf Coast, the 10,000 Islands area, Florida Bay, the Everglades, just to mention a few.

Reports are that it's only a matter of time before the slick reaches the loop current which will then bring the oil through these sensitive areas and even to the touristy areas where humans, as opposed to wildlife, frequent.  These are the same areas where I fish for snook, redfish, trout, mackerel, permit, etc.  Folks don't realize how even the most mundane trash folks throw into the ocean can effect these birds and their habitat.  I saw out by these rookeries mardi gras beads in the mangroves that had washed up from the Gasparilla Pirate Fest many miles away.

These spoons have been making a comeback thanks in large part to the work of volunteers.  But if the coastline is soiled with oil,  those strides will be for naught.

I've volunteered as part of the National Audubon Society's efforts to mobilize people to help with bird rescue and beach cleanup should the oil make landfall in South Florida.  You can help to by clicking here and adding your name to the database. I hope and pray that this coastline can miraculously be spared.  This has been my best year photographing spoonbills. Hopefully, it won't be my last.