Our very own Lake Somerset is home to many varieties of Central Florida wading birds, including Roseate Spoonbills and Wood Storks. This lake is a prime nesting colony for many other wading birds but has the largest colony of wood storks. Recently, signs have been posted around the island so that boaters will keep their distance from the islands to prevent disturbing nests.
Somerset Rookery Sign Installation Map
The Wood Stork is an expansive species, which nests in colonies (rookeries) , and roosts and feeds in flocks. Wood Storks use freshwater and estuarine wetlands as feeding, nesting, and roosting sites. Although storks are no habitat specialists, their needs are exacting enough, and available habitat is limited enough, so that nesting success and the size of regional populations are closely regulated by year-to-year differences in the quality and quantity of the suitable habitat. All available evidence suggests that regional declines in wood stork numbers have been largely due to the loss or degradation of essential wetland habitat. Good feeding conditions for the Wood Stork usually occur where water is relatively calm and uncluttered by dense thickets of aquatic vegetation.Wood Storks also nest in colonies, and will return to the same colony for many years so long as that site and surrounding feeding habitat continue to supply the needs of the birds.
Any activity including, but not limited to, harassing, disturbing, harming, molesting, pursuing, etc. wood storks, or destroying their nests is illegal. The greatest threats to colony site are from human disruption and predation. It is essential that these fledging birds have little to no disturbance.
The following are guidelines and recommendations for feeding and nesting colonies:
- There should be no human intrusion into feeding sites when storks are present. Human activity should be no closer than 300 feet where solid vegetation exists and 750 feet where there is no vegetation screen.
- The introduction of contaminants, fertilizers or herbicides into wetland that contain stork feeding sites should be avoided, especially those compounds that could adversely alter the diversity and numbers of native fishes, or that could substantially change the characteristics of aquatic vegetation. Increase in the density and height of emergent vegetation can degrade or destroy sites as feeding habitat.
The following activities can be harmful to the colony:
- Any lumbering or other removal of vegetation
- Any activity that reduces the area, depth, or length of flooding in wetlands under and surrounding the colony, except where periodic water control may be required to maintain the health of the aquatic, woody vegetation
- The construction of any building, roadway, tower, power line, canal, etc.
- Any unauthorized human entry closer than 300 feet of the colony
- Any increase or irregular pattern in human activity