Branded Spoonbill Among Highlights of Naples Christmas Bird Count

Jan. 16, 2015

NAPLES – Research staff with Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve recorded a banded roseate spoonbill while conducting the annual Naples Audubon Christmas bird count by boat between Naples and Marco Island on Dec. 26, 2014.

The faded red metal band on the spoonbill’s upper left leg was seen as the bird was feeding among the mangroves lining the Rookery Bay backwaters. Bands are color-coded in accordance with the location at which they were banded. There are also letters inscribed on the bands to differentiate species.

“I’ve looked at hundreds…maybe even thousands of spoonbill legs over the past ten years and this is the first one I’ve found with a band,” said Beverly Anderson, Rookery Bay biologist. “Using binoculars, I was able to make out CV inscribed on it.”

Anderson contacted the Florida Audubon research center in Tavernier and learned the bird was banded by Audubon scientists as a chick at the Alafia wading bird colony near Tampa Bay on April 25, 2007. It was last reported from Alafia on June 21, 2007 and has not been reported again until now.

“Re-sightings of banded individuals help us better understand where birds disperse to find feeding grounds, as well as the age at which they mature and their longevity,” said Tavernier Research Center Manager Peter Frezza.

Other Naples Christmas count highlights were three peregrine falcons, two common loons and six northern gannets.

Frezza is presenting his work on spoonbills as the keynote presenter at the Southwest Florida Nature Festival at Rookery Bay Reserve on Saturday, Jan. 17. For more information about the festival, click here.

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