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Paurotis Pond opens after 2013 nesting season

Paurotis Pond in Everglades National Park has reopened.

Roseate Spoonbill.
Everglades National Park photo.
The wood stork, North America’s only native stork.
© 2013 George Leposky

Located 24 miles from the main park entrance, Paurotis Pond and the zone beyond the parking area adjacent to the pond close every year during the winter “dry season” to protect the endangered wood stork and other nesting birds there from human disturbance.

Visitors now may enjoy open access for fishing, canoeing, and wildlife viewing until winter when nesting begins again.

The nesting closure varies in length from year to year, depending on bird behavior. In 2013 the area closed in January when the nesting season began for roseate spoonbills, which tend to nest earlier than other birds. The 2013 closure was longer than in some years past due to a late or second nesting of great egrets and white ibis.

Every winter, wading birds throughout the Everglades gather at traditional (and new) nesting sites in preparation for nest building. They form nesting colonies that often contain hundreds or even thousands of nesting birds.

In recent years, about 400 pairs of wood storks have nested at Paurotis Pond. Other species nesting there include:

• Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
• Black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
• Great blue heron (Ardea herodias)
• Great egret (Ardea alba)
• Little blue heron (Egretta caerulea)
• Roseate spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja)
• Snowy egret (Egretta thula)
• Tri-colored heron (Egretta tricolor)
• White ibis (Eudocimus albus)

If you go to Paurotis Pond, schedule your visit for early morning or mid-day. In the afternoon, you’ll be looking across the pond right into the setting sun, discouraging photography and the use of binoculars and telescopes to view the birds.

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