Paurotis Pond

paurotis pondThe Everglades needs water to survive; it’s a water-based ecosystem made up of sawgrass marshes, waterways, prairies, forested uplands, and ponds, including Paurotis Pond. One reason the area needs water so badly is because it’s home to an abundance of plants, animals, and marine life. Not only does water give the plants and animals sustenance, it gives them a home.

One of these “homes” is Paurotis Pond. The pond is a well-known nesting site of a variety of birds. The pond is situated 24 miles from the main Everglades park entrance in Homestead, Fl. The pond gets its name from the Paurotis Palms, a plant with green fan-shapes leaves that is native to the Everglades.

The National Park Service’s mission is to protect and preserve the landscape of the Everglades, so each year, the park

Every year, the Park closes the Pond area to protect nesting birds, including the Wood Storks, from any human disturbances. For instance, in January 2015, the Park closed Paurotis Pond for the Roseate Spoonbills’ nesting season. Pond closures vary in dates and times every year. The closures are dependent on birds’ behaviors.  The Wood Stork was once an endangered species, but thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the species’ status was downgraded to “threatened.” This success is attributed to nearly 30 years of conversation and preservation efforts. In the last few years, Paurotis Pond has been a nesting site for about 400 pairs of Wood Storks.

Bird species that nest at Paurotis Pond, include: Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, Snowy Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Black-Crowned Night Herons, Anhinga, and Little Blue Herons.

Just like people who flock to Florida for the winter, these birds fly down to Paurotis Pond during the dry season to prepare their nest-building sites. The birds form nesting colonies comprised of hundreds to thousands of birds. In this season, birds gather around permanent bodies of water, like Paurotis Pond, which makes bird-watching easy. The best birding season in the Everglades is from December to March. January and February are the best months to check out the birds at Paurotis Pond, if it has not been closed off for nesting. However, bird watching from the Pond’s parking area usually remains open. Not only is the pond a popular bird-watching site, but visitors can access the area to fish and canoe, as well.

Explore the Everglades

The Everglades is full of beautiful birds and waters for your viewing pleasure. Since it’s the winter season, now is the best time to catch birds nesting in the area’s waters. To make the most of your Everglades visit, take an airboat ride with Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours. To schedule your ride, call Captain Mitch’s at 239-695-3377.

The American Wood Stork Is Making Its Comeback

image of an American wood stork

An American wood stork in flight.

The Obama administration has announced good news for the Florida Everglades this week: the American wood stork, a species which at one point had been predicted to be extinct by the year 2000, has made a glorious come back. This beautiful wading bird is getting an official upgrade from “endangered” to “threatened,” and current estimates cite the population to be close to 9,000 breeding adults.

Though related species thrive in other parts of the world, namely South and Central America, the wood stork has struggled in subtropical areas of Florida, mostly due to habitat destruction for commercial and residential development. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has worked hard over the last three decades to restore wetlands in and around Florida, and due to their efforts, this once rare bird can now be found as far north as Georgia, South Carolina, and even North Carolina. The wood stork still has a long way to go before it will no longer be considered “threatened,” but wildlife officials are optimistic.

This impressive bird can reach heights of up to four feet with a wingspan that can reach up to five feet, and is the only stork species found in the United States. They prefer swamplands and marshes, where they can feed on fish and frogs, and use the surrounding trees and mangroves to nest and protect their eggs. Adults have no natural predators in the area, except for the occasional alligator, so the only real threat to them is human interference.

More and more visitors to Florida are able to see these birds each year as their numbers rise, and airboat rides through the Everglades with Captain Mitch are a perfect opportunity to try and spot one of these birds for yourself. The knowledge and love that Captain Mitch and his crew have for this area and its creatures are passed on to everyone who steps foot on their airboats; you’ll step off the boat from your Everglades swamp tour inspired and with a new understanding and appreciation for this unique yet fragile eco-system.