Annually, the Refuge conducts a survey of nesting birds on Snake Key. Refuge staff, Friends, and other volunteers count specific birds for 3-5 days. Protocol is to start counting 90 minutes after sunrise, and count for two hours. Species counted include spoonbill, great blue heron, tricolored heron, little blue heron, black crowned night heron, snowy egret, great egret, reddish egret, white ibis, cormorant, and brown pelican. Other species of interest such as eagle, osprey and frigatebird are noted as well.
An interesting fact is that some species, such as ibis, fly considerable distances to fresh water (including the Lower Suwannee Refuge) to harvest food for their young, who are unable to digest food from saltwater.
For the 2022 survey, one volunteer reported counting over 1,100 ibis flying into the island and over 550 flying out.
Refuge staff are preparing a report that will be posted here.
Photos taken by Ann Kamzelski.