Spring means sharing the beach with shorebirds
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130
As Florida's residents and visitors venture out to
the beaches to enjoy warmer weather after a hard, long winter, so
do the state's abundant and unique shorebirds. But there's a big
difference between the two beachcombers in Florida.
Shorebirds depend on those narrow stretches of sand
to survive, not only in the short term, but to survive as a
species. Without the proper nesting sites and feeding habitat, the
number of shorebird species may decline. Some species' numbers are
already stressed, so accidentally disturbing their nesting sites
would be particularly harmful.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) urges all beachgoers to be on the lookout for
nesting shorebirds and give them plenty of space to perpetuate
"In the next few weeks, our biologists and
volunteers will be posting signs and putting up temporary fencing
on Florida's beaches to help protect shorebirds," said Nancy
Douglass, an FWC nongame biologist. "Beachgoers can do their part
by staying out of the posted areas and either leaving dogs at home
or keeping them on leashes away from those posted areas. And please
don't let dogs chase the birds."
Any disturbance by people, pets or vehicles can
result in shorebirds abandoning their nests and the death of young
birds. Many of Florida's shorebirds are either threatened or
endangered, and it is a violation of state and federal laws to
harass or take any endangered or threatened birds, their eggs or
With the help of volunteers, FWC biologists manage
these areas to maximize nesting success for these species, which
include the least tern, black skimmer, American oystercatcher,
snowy plover and Wilson's plover. Nesting areas will be
closed off with "symbolic fencing," which consists of signs
connected by twine and marked with flagging. These closed
areas protect the nesting birds from unnecessary disturbances and
protect their nests from people who might accidentally step on
them. All of these species nest in the open and lay their
well-camouflaged eggs directly on the sand, making them nearly
invisible to predators and to the untrained human eye.
The closed areas on the beaches may change or shift
throughout the nesting season, depending on where the birds have
chosen to nest at any given time.
If you would like more information about Florida's
shorebirds, go to the "Living with Wildlife" area under
MyFWC.com/Wildlife, and download the "Co-existing with Florida's
beach-nesting birds" brochure.