Threatened shorebird finds safe haven atop FWC building in Keys
Monday, June 20, 2011
Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 561-625-5122
State and federally protected roseate terns nest in only two
places in the Florida Keys: the Dry Tortugas and the tar-and-gravel
roof of the Florida Department of Management Services' Monroe
County Regional Service Center. It just so happens that the
two-story building on Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys hosts an
office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(FWC), the state agency charged with managing and protecting
Florida's fish and wildlife resources, including this particular
"It is appropriate that of all the tall buildings in the Keys,
the roseate tern has established a major colony on top of the
government building in Marathon, home to the FWC's fish and
wildlife research and law enforcement staff," said Ricardo
Zambrano, FWC regional biologist with the Division of Habitat and
Species Conservation. "As far as we know, this is the only rooftop
breeding colony in the world."
Zambrano estimates there are 67 nests on top of the building.
During breeding season, FWC biologists closely monitor this colony,
managing the population. The work includes banding fluffy, speckled
chicks to find out where they are wintering and to get an estimate
of survival. In addition, FWC protects the rooftop inhabitants by
limiting human access to reduce disturbances and sealing large
drains so the small chicks cannot fall through.
Because of loss of habitat, increased predation and competition
from other birds, the Florida population of roseate terns dropped
to about 300 pairs. The FWC and its partners are working diligently
to stabilize the population.
For more information on the
roseate tern and Florida's shorebirds, visit