Snail Kites are very unique to Florida. In fact, the southern half of the Florida peninsula is the only place in the world the bird can be found. It's a federally listed, endangered species that is struggling to exist with the ever increasing human impacts on Florida's natural resources. Currently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimate that the total number of snail kites is somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 animals.
The nesting season typically runs from December through August and throughout the birds range from the Kissimmee Chain (including lake Toho) down to the Everglades National Park. However, during drought years like the one Florida is currently experiencing, studies show that most, if not all, nesting occurs on the upper end of their range. As of April 10th, of the 34 known nests in Florida, 32 of them are on Lake Toho. This critically low number of nesting birds in one small area has prompted the FWC and the USFWS to ask for the help of all boaters to ensure the species has the best opportunity to successfully hatch offspring and contribute to the population in 2007.
Rather than closing known nesting areas to all traffic (which they have the authority to do), state and federal officials are asking that air boaters, anglers, skiers, canoers, etc. voluntarily avoid nesting birds. Known nest sites will be marked by red signs attached to poles driven in the substrate. People are asked to approach no closer than 500 feet from these signs. Most of these nests will be too far back in the vegetation to seriously impact angling activities. However, if you do happen to run across a nest site, please stay at least 500 feet away. Additionally, if you see a nest that is not marked, please contact the FWC at (407) 846-5300.