St. Augustine Alligator Farm’s Wading Bird Rookery– A Birder’s Paradise

One of the perks of having alligators in your back yard is that they make for great guard animals. Just ask the egret/heron species that colonize the nesting grounds on the campus of Florida’s famed St. Augustine Alligator Farm. The pictures below will amaze you!

Jackie Kramer, an EPA official and friend came to visit me at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center a few weeks ago to check out our new marine birding venue. Jackie is a wildlife photographer in her free time. She is also quite in to birding and recently returned from St. Augustine, Florida where she participated in the 2011 Florida Birding and Photo FestThe Center for Marine Studies at Whitney Laboratory  (University of Florida) hosted the event– a dream for birders and photographers alike.

One of the field sites selected for the photographers was the Native Swamp and Rookery exhibit at St. Augustine Alligator Farm.  The farm is not only famous for it’s impressive collection of captive crocodilians, but for its wading bird rookery–a premier bird photography site.  If it were not for the gators the rookery would not exist. As the farm’s website declares, “these birds seek out evening roosts above the alligators, knowing that alligators will keep tree-climbing predators away.”

Tricolored Heron (Photo by Jackie Kramer)
Egrets (Photo by Jackie Kramer)
Roseatte Spoonbills (Photo by Jackie Kramer)


Meet the Author
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: