Hundreds of endangered Wood Storks are settling down for the nesting season in Everglades National Park, and that means Paurotis Pond and the surrounding area have been temporarily closed to visitors.
The closure includes the area beyond the parking area adjacent to the pond in a continuing effort to protect the storks and all nesting birds in this area from human disturbance.
This closure will be in effect through the nesting season, which can vary in length depending on bird behavior. Bird watching from the Paurotis Pond parking area off the main park road will remain open, with the pond and the area beyond the lot closed. If you're a birdwatcher, this is a particularly good time of year to watch these wonderful creatures in the nesting process.
When winter's "dry season" comes to Everglades, wading birds throughout the landscape cut by the "river of grass" gather at traditional (and new) nesting sites in preparation for nest building. They form nesting colonies that often contain hundreds and even thousands of nesting birds.
Paurotis Pond is one of the traditional nesting sites located in the heart of Everglades National Park. Species nesting here include the Great Egret (Ardea alba), White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), Tri-colored Heron (Egretta tricolor), Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Black-Crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), and Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga).
However, one nesting species in particular really stands out among the others: the federally endangered Wood Stork. In recent years, Paurotis Pond has been the nesting site for approximately 400 pairs of Wood Storks.