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As cranes continue to crowd South Florida’s skyline, birds of different feather are becoming increasingly hard to find.

On Saturday, birders and counters working with Tropical Audubon headed out for the first round of the annual Christmas Bird Count. The Audubon tradition launched in 1900 to turn the tide against hunting birds and tap into the burgeoning conservation movement. What participants found this year were fewer birds and a decline in good bird habitat.

Amid the devastation of Hurricane Michael along Florida's Panhandle, experts say there's a ray of hope: a once imperiled bird is enjoying a renaissance.

A pair of black skimmers walking along the beach at Lido Key in Sarasota County.
Cathy Carter / WUSF Public Media

By Jeffrey Smith

Wildlife groups are warning beachgoers of a threatened species, the black skimmer, showing up at beaches around the Tampa Bay area.

It was like a scene straight out of Alfred Hitchcock. Late on New Year's Eve 2010, thousands of birds rained from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas.

Some 5,000 red-winged blackbirds, European starlings, common grackles and brown-headed cowbirds suffered blunt-force trauma after colliding with cars, trees and buildings, an ornithologist from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission would tell National Geographic.

Wildlife biologist Kory McLellan shoots off pyrotechnics to scare birds away from the airfield at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
Mariette Adams / U.S. Air Force

Fireworks, drones, and habitat relocation projects are among the ways that Air Force biologists are fighting the expensive and potentially deadly problem of bird strikes.


Doug DeNeve / Tampa Audubon Society

The Tampa Bay Area is a mecca for bird-watchers year round. But spring is particularly special, when Florida’s native species are joined by large numbers of other birds migrating north.


Doug DeNeve

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about bird-watching in the Tampa Bay area and the people who make it their hobby – or life passion.


Satellite images this month show a harmful red tide algal bloom festering in the Gulf of Mexico-- mere miles away from the shorelines of Southwest Florida. But birds have been telling us this for over a month.

 

 


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