15 Endangered Birds of Florida (cont. pg4)

Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) – State Threatened 

This species is the rarest heron in North America, with the five Gulf Coast states comprising the northernmost part of its range. Eliminated from Florida by the plume-hunters by the late 1800s, Reddish Egrets returned naturally to former breeding sites by 1974.

Since then, the number of nesting pairs has slowly climbed to 480 across the state. Reddish Egrets have a blue-gray body with mauve-colored head and chest, but white morph birds are also seen, primarily in the Tampa Bay region. These birds nest with other wading birds in coastal island colonies. Although not federally listed for the United States, the Reddish Egret is state-designated as Threatened in Texas and Florida .

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Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) – State Threatened

Roseate Spoonbills are among the most stunning and recognizable birds along Florida’s shores — their bright pink plumage with deep pink wing accents, orange tail feathers, and spoon-shaped bills make them easy to identify.

The spoonbill’s plumage was highly prized by plume hunters and the species was largely extirpated in Florida by 1900. While their numbers have rebounded significantly, they are still at risk due to loss of habitat and erratic water levels in Florida Bay affecting food availability.

Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus) – State Threatened

Snowy Plovers are year-round Florida residents that nest on white sand beaches, near passes, and along intertidal sand flats. They pluck small invertebrate animals from the breaking surf and forage for insects along the upper beach.

Once common along Florida’s Gulf coast, Snowy Plover numbers are steadily declining primarily due to disturbance, predation, and loss of habitat. High rises and other development along our coast prevent beaches from retreating in response to sea level rise, potentially leaving these solitary ground-nesters nowhere to go. 

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