Don’t look for birds on Bird Island, in Port Orange, Florida. Just south of the Dunlawton Avenue Bridge, the 1.86-acre island was reliably packed with brown pelicans, herons, and egrets until sometime in October, when the birds vanished. Numerous birdwatchers frequented the island, and even held a Big Sit there each October for the past 19 years. They usually found 40 bird species there; this year, they counted only 22. The island was declared a protected critical wildlife area in December 2017.
Pelicans and other birds continue to inhabit areas around the island and in the park under the bridge, observers say, but the 200-300 birds usually seen on or around the island are gone.
Something similar happened on April 20, 2015, on Seahorse Key, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The 165-acre island that hosted a rookery estimated to contain more than 10,000 nesting pairs of birds was abandoned overnight. Some evacuees moved two miles east to Snake Key, which is about 35 acres. About 3,000 pairs of birds nest there now, but Seahorse remains generally devoid of birds. Biologists and other wildlife experts still have not solved the mystery of why birds abandoned it. Efforts to lure birds to return by using decoys have failed.
Read the full story at https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20181124/birds-vanish-from-port-oranges-bird-island
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