TAMPA BAY TIMES: Irma roughs up endangered snail kites, birds that help us gauge the Everglades' health

Tampa Bay Times: Written by Craig Pittman. September 21, 2017.

Hurricane Irma was as rough on some wildlife as it was on the humans. Audubon of Florida reported Thursday that the storm destroyed all 44 nests around Lake Okeechobee built by the endangered Everglades snail kite, a bird considered crucial to the River of Grass ecosystem.

Audubon's scientists had been keeping an eye on about 130 nests statewide. Losing 44 of them means a poor breeding season ends "on an even worse note," the organization's spokesman, Sean Cooley, said in an e-mail.

"Post-Irma assessments of the lake indicate that many adults and juveniles in the area rode out the storm and survived, but sadly, nests with eggs or flightless babies perished," he wrote.

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