| While mid-April is typically the time we begin to see the peak of the drydown and the most impressive feeding frenzy by wading birds, this year, we are drying down quickly and we aren’t seeing the large aggregations of wading birds we’ve come to expect each dry season.
Part of the reason for the reduced bird numbers right now is due to our extremely dry fall, coupled with the driest March we’ve ever recorded.
Find more details about water levels here.
With less water in our system this season, there was less fish habitat and reduced fish production, resulting in fewer fish available for birds to eat. In this video shot just last week, Research Technician Lee Martin observed what he estimated to be 71 Wood Storks feeding at the South Lettuce Lake, along with an assortment of herons, egrets, White Ibises, and Roseate Spoonbills. This number of Wood Storks has not been seen in the Sanctuary since the video was shot.
According to Research Director Shawn Clem, Ph.D., tactile feeders like Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills are like sprinters: showing up under the very best conditions, eating as much as possible, and moving along to the next best spot. Herons, egrets, and ibis are more like marathon runners: they are in it for the long haul and stick around to get every fish.