THE PINK CANARY IN THE COALMINE
Audubon scientists have been monitoring the nesting colonies of roseate spoonbills in Florida Bay within Everglades National Park for over 80 years. During the plume trade in the late 1800s the spoonbills were hunted to near extirpation in South Florida. As their populations rebounded once a federal ban was placed on the millinery trade, biologists were hopeful. However, when South Florida began its draining and development of the Everglades watershed, the birds quickly declined once again.
Biologists believe these pink birds are the perfect indicator species for the health of the entire ecosystem because of their dependence on the natural fluctuations of water levels. Over the years their populations have ebbed and flowed as water management schemes have affected freshwater flow to Florida Bay, the terminus of the watershed. By studying these unique pink birds and their food supply, scientists are able to gauge the success of Everglades restoration efforts.