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South Florida Aquatic Environments

Mangroves



MANGROVE LIFE: BIRDS
Anhinga -"snake bird"
courtesy South Florida Water Management District


Mangrove life:

Birds

The mangroves of south Florida provide a habitat for many bird species. The shallow waters and exposed mudflats of the mangroves make this habitat ideal for probing shoreline birds such as plovers and sandpipers. Long-legged wading birds utilize these and deeper waters along mangrove-lined waterways. Herons, egrets, bitterns, spoonbills, limpkins, and ibis are among the wading birds that visit mangroves in search of food.

White Ibis
courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

White Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill
courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Roseate Spoonbill

White ibis (Eudocimus albus) feed on crabs while the roseate spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja) preys on mollusks and other invertebrates living within the sediments. Yellow-crowned night herons (Nyctasnassa violacea) and American bitterns (Botaurus lentiginosus) feed on a variety of prey, including crabs, crayfish, frogs and mice as well as small fishes. Mangroves also provide breeding habitat for wading birds. The entire Everglades population of the wood stork nests only in mangroves.

Mallard Duck
© Dr. Antonio J. Ferreira, California Academy of Sciences

Mallard Duck

Twenty-nine species of ducks, grebes, loons, cormorants, and gallinules have been observed in the mangrove habitats of south Florida. These floating/diving birds feed on fishes, plant materials, and invertebrates. Some of these waterfowl are year round residents, while others occur during migration or as winter visitors.

Species include:
Brown pelican
© Cathleen Bester/FLMNH

Birds of prey include permanent residents, summer residents, and winter visitors of mangrove habitats. The southern bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), and peregrine falcon (Falco columbarius) depend upon mangroves for their survival in south Florida. The bald eagle and osprey feed extensively on the fishes that occur in mangroves. These species also roost and nest within the mangrove tree canopy.

Soaring bald eagle
courtesy South Florida Water Management District

Other birds of prey that frequent mangrove systems include:

Barn Owl
© R. Straatman, California Academy of Sciences

Barn Owl