As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday 16 December 2012

The island that Miami forgot: Historic Bird Key teems with pelicans, egrets, ibises — and trash

There’s an uninhabited island in Biscayne Bay where a dozen species of birds whoop loudly in the treetops, stingrays nudge the shore, manatees linger and dolphins are a common sight.
It’s called Bird Key. And it’s covered in garbage.

From the waterline deep into the mangroves, there are tires, deck chairs, wood planks, beer cans, plastic bottles, children’s toys, fishing line, shoes, crates, coolers, plastic drums and an endless array of urban debris that Biscayne Bay swallowed up and spat out.

Sitting 500 yards offshore, just south of the 79th Street Causeway, Bird Key is one of Biscayne Bay’s oldest and most ecologically important islands. It was surveyed by the British crown and fought over by early settlers. Investors acquired it, and preservationists covet it. Yet little has been written about the island. And litter has been accumulating there for decades.

Formed by the outflow of the Little River, Bird Key is one of only two natural islands in the bay north of the Rickenbacker Causeway. At least 20 other uninhabited islands were created from spoil material dredged from the bay bottom when navigation channels were dug in the early 1900s. Those manmade islands serve as habitats for plants and recreation areas for boaters, but have little permanent birdlife.

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