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 Waterbird Colony Locator 

Introduction: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducted a statewide aerial survey during 26 January-25 June 1999 to locate waterbird (herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills, storks, anhingas, cormorants, and pelicans) breeding colonies and estimate colony size and species composition. Fixed-wing aircraft were used to fly statewide East-West survey transects at 5-km intervals. Survey routes deviated at times to allow inventory of previously known colonies from earlier surveys. Of the 1,065 sites visited in 1999, 371 (34.8%) were active colonies supporting one or more species of waterbirds, while 694 (65.2%) were inactive sites. The largest number of active colonies (n=158, 42.6%) were located in central Florida between 27º-29ºN latitude; only 72 (19.4%) of the colonies were located in northern Florida above 29ºN; the remaining colonies (n=141, 38.0%) were found in the southern part of the state below 27ºN. Of the 371 active colonies located in 1999, 72.5% (n=269) contained 2 or more nesting species, while only 12.1% (n=45) exhibited 5 or more nesting species. The colonies in the central region tended to contain more species per colony than both the northern and southern regions of the state. Fewer colonies were found in 1999 (n=371) compared to previous statewide surveys during 1976-1978 (n=378) and 1986-1989 (n=635). Except for the brown pelican and cattle egret, most species continued a trend of nesting in smaller numbers and in fewer colonies during 1999 compared to previous surveys. Of the active colonies located in 1999, 51.2% (n=190) were previously undocumented colonies, 43.9% (n=163) were active during 1986-1989, and 21.0% (n=78) were active during 1976-1978. Only 60 (16.2%) 1999 colonies were active during the 1976-1978, 1986-1989, and 1999 surveys.

Numeric results should be used with caution as aerial estimates are variable and some species are difficult to detect (i.e., small, dark species nesting under the tree canopy). Some colonies were also visited by ground surveys.  If the ground survey numbers indicated a better count, the results from the ground survey were used. 

Colony data can be searched for by County, by Township/Range/Section, by species or proximity to a user-specified point of interest.   The colony must match all of the fields specified.   If the colony is located in the Florida Keys, it is advisable to leave the section off, since the section numbers may be irregular.  If a species is selected, then colonies that contained that species are included, and a percentage that the species comprises of the total colony count is displayed. If a latitude and longitude is used to specify the location of a point of interest, clicking "Search" will find all nests located within the specified number of miles from the point. For example, to search for all colonies within 30 miles of the town of Perry FL, enter a latitude of 30 degrees, 7.9 minutes and a longitude of 83 degrees, 34.68 minutes, and a distance of 30 miles. Latitude/longitude coordinates for a point of interest can be determined using a GPS unit, the Florida Atlas & Gazetteer, or paper or electronic United States Geological Survey topographic maps such as those available at

Please Note: This database contains records for all known and verified colonies in the state of Florida that were surveyed by the FWC during the period 1999 nesting season. Nests discovered more recently than this are not included in the database. Each year, a number of new colony sites are found. For this reason, users of this database are cautioned that the absence of a colony record for a given property does not necessarily mean wading birds are not present. This colony locator service is not meant to replace a specific on-the-ground survey.  Disturbance to the colony may occur if a visit is made, and many of the colonies are located on private land. Providing these locations does not confer any permission by FWC to access private property.

View colonies based on County, by Township/Range/Section, Latitude/longitude, or Species

Colonies for county

Township   Range   Section

Colonies with this species active in 1999

   Degrees  Minutes
Distance (miles)      


 This site is compiled and maintained by Wildlife Technology Services in the Division of Wildlife for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and was last modified: October 8, 2003.