Wading birds delight

A friend of mine went out to Everglades National Park’s Shark Valley and was perplexed:

“It was so dry out there” she explained in shock, “… that can’t be good for the wildlife.” “Plus,” she added, “I’m worried about the wildfires.”  (April and the first half of May is usually a time of low rain.)

Turns out it is good for the wildlife, for the wading birds at least.
The summer surge of rains (from Fay) followed by a steady winter drawdown of water has blossomed into a spring bumper crop of wading bird nests — a few in Shark River Slough and the western Everglades, but most abundant in Loxahatchee. Source

But what really perplexed her was her astute follow-up inquiry:

“And why was there so much water on the other side of the road?”

“The road you thought was the Tamiami Trail,” I explained, “was actually the top of the L-29 levee. In general, it blocks the flow of the glades, and specifically – when its gates are closed (as they are now, and have been for months) – it stops the water cold in its tracks,” (or hot in its tracks, as is the case in south Florida).

So despite all that water to the north, that area is poor nesting and foraging habitat for the wading birds.

It’s too deep.

“Those sloughs haven’t gone dry since 1989,” I added.

Now THAT was a wildfire season to remember.

* Text in red indicate corrections made after original post

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