Elaborate feathered hats—sometimes festooned with whole birds—were fashionable in the Victorian era. At the height of the trend, certain plume feathers were worth more than their weight in gold. As a result, hunters killed millions of birds every year, pushing some species to the brink of extinction. The Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s Atlantic coast—seen here in a Landsat 8 image—was prime hunting ground. Because it straddles temperate and subtropical climate zones, the shallow estuary was (and still is) among the most biodiverse in the United States. The area supports more than 300 bird species, including large populations of egrets, herons, spoonbills, and other showy wading birds that frequent the lagoon to stalk fish and nest in its dense thickets of mangroves.
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