Seven years ago, Peter Frederick, a UF professor of ecology and conservation, hypothesized that increased mercury consumption would decrease reproduction among birds. Naturally, he and a team of researchers built a 13,000-square foot facility and divided 160 white ibises into a four equal groups of male and female birds.
"We expected changes in hormone levels and courtship behavior," Frederick told the Gainesville paper, "but we did not expect that males would pair bond with other males."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Riptide is all for equal rights; if male ibises want to "pair bond" with one another, that's totally cool. But the study shines a light on a bigger issue, mercury contamination in South Florida.
Charles Lee is the advocacy director for Audubon of Florida, a wildlife conservation society, and told the Florida Times-Union, wading birds such as the ibis can say a lot about the Everglades.
"One of those things is that the population of wading birds has historically declined by somewhere around 90 percent ... in South Florida," he said, "We also know that in South Florida there is very clear evidence of a [mercury] contamination problem in the Everglades."
We are anxious to see how Governor-elect Rick Scott solves the gay bird/polluted Everglades problem. Will he turn his back on the gay ibis community, or enforce stringent penalties when large corporations pollute the state's wetland?