FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- South Florida officials say wading bird nesting suffered in 2012 when too much water returned to the region too fast.
The South Florida Water Management District says a rainy year following two years of drought caught herons, wood storks, ibises and egrets off guard. Officials say the number of wading bird nests declined for the third straight year.
Wading birds can't nest or abandon nests when water levels are too high and small prey fish aren't available. Officials tell the Sun Sentinel that 26,395 wading bird nests were found this year. In 2009, 77,505 nests were found.
Officials say nesting totals in the Florida Everglades also are far below the targets set in state and federal restoration plans.
Wading birds typically nest during Florida's winter-to-spring dry season.