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Hi, Everyone.

Spoonbills are indeed increasing dramatically in the St. Pete area, and for
good reason.  Over the last 5 years or so, nesting numbers have increased from
200 to over 300 pairs in the Tampa Bay region.  The largest colony is Alafia
Bank, in Hillsborough Bay (240 prs), nest is Terra Ceia Bird Key in Terra Ceia
Bay (40+ pairs).  In Pinellas County, spoonbills nest at Tarpon Key (NWR) near
Ft. DeSoto (when there are no raccoons present; 0 prs in 2003), Little Bird
Key (NWR) at the north end of Tierra Verde (28 prs in 2003 if I remember
correctly), Coffee Pot Bayou (2), Johns Pass (about 5 pairs at 2 sites), and I-25 at
Clearwater Harbor (5-10 prs).

In NE Florida, spoonbills nest within Merritt I. NWR at one or more colonies
in the n. Banana River and also at the Haulover or "Mullethead I." colony.  We
estimated 25 pairs at Haulover a few years ago but have nothing more recent.
The NWR folks may have more recent data but we have not heard.

It's typical for spoonbills summering in the northern part of their range to
return southward with the fronts of fall, so for some to still be hanging out
in Nassau County is news.  As observers keep tabs on these birds, please also
check to see whether any are adults and whether they appear to be assuming
their alternate, or breeding, plumage.  That "carmine drip" on the wing is a good
character to watch.  Nonbreeding adults may have bald heads and red legs, but
they lack the carmine drip.  If birds acquire it, that's something to watch
and report to us all (please).

Thanks to all who comment on spoonbills.  And don't forget to look for banded
birds!

Rich Paul
[log in to unmask]
Tampa

and
Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries
Audubon of Florida
[log in to unmask]

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