Birds suddenly abandon Florida environment, experts have no explanation

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Birds Suddenly Abandon Florida Environment, Experts Have No Explanation


On a typical summer day, Florida's Seahorse Key is a hub of bird activity, with numerous species settling there for the warmer months.

This year, however, is different. In late spring, all of them vacated the area swiftly and at the same time, leaving behind empty nests and broken eggs.

Officials have no explanation for the birds' departure.

They've performed a number of tests to rule out disease and predators, but human activity is still considered a possibility.

Seahorse Key has been a popular spot among blue herons, snowy egrets, pelicans and many others for decades. In 1929, it was established as a protected refuge for them.

See the birds that usually call Seahorse Key home:
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Birds suddenly abandon Florida environment, experts have no explanation
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, an Osprey returns to its nest in Seahorse Key, off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, a variety of birds gather in branches at Snake Key, Fla. near Seahorse Key, off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, a great blue heron flies near the shore of Snake Key, off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, tricolored herons perch in tree branches on Snake Key, Fla. just a short distance from Seahorse Key off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, several ospreys perch on a signpost at Seahorse Key, Fla. off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, Larry Woodward, left, and Vic Doig of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service observe bird life off shore at Snake Key, Fla. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, a roseate spoonbill flies near Snake Key, short distance from Seahorse Key, off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, Vic Doig, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist observes empty bird nests in Seahorse Key, off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, a broken bird egg shell is seen in Seahorse Key, off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, Larry Woodward, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looks over a broken egg shell at Seahorse Key, Fla. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo, Vic Doig, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist observes empty bird nests in Seahorse Key, off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Friday, June 19, 2015 photo various herons and egrets gather on the shore of Snake Key, Fla. not far from Seahorse Key, off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In May, Seahorse Key fell eerily quiet, as thousands of birds suddenly disappeared, and biologists are trying to find the reason why. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Vic Doig said what was once the largest bird colony on the state’s Gulf Coast is now a “dead zone.” (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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Keeping masses of people away hasn't proven to be too hard, as the place is teeming with mosquitos, yellow flies, and cottonmouth snakes.

While such creatures can be both dangerous and annoying, the birds found a way to work with them and develop an environment in which all inhabitants thrived.

That's part of what makes the avian exodus so puzzling.

Experts are having a tough time imagining what could have occurred to make thebirds leave a home they spent so many years establishing.
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