ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Shorebird nesting season is beginning, and a three-day survey of shorebirds on Anna Maria Island beaches shows 38 black skimmers – a threatened species in Florida – preparing to nest.
Local shorebirds – including another threatened species, snowy plovers, have not quite begun their spring nesting, but will soon, said Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox, who completed the survey.
Skimmers, plovers and other shorebirds scoop out shallow nests in beach sand, making the nests difficult to see and vulnerable to being unknowingly trampled by beachgoers. Volunteers stake out the nesting areas to protect the eggs, chicks and parents.
During bird nesting season, March through August, beachgoers should follow these tips to keep birds safe:
- Teach kids not to chase birds – bird parents may abandon nests if they are disturbed.
- Don’t feed birds – it encourages them to fly at people aggressively and is not good for their health.
- If birds are screeching and flying at you, you’re too close to them.
- Avoid posted bird nesting areas and use designated walkways to the beach.
- Keep pets away from bird nesting areas.
- Never touch a shorebird chick, even if it’s wandering outside a staked nesting area.
- Keep the beach clean; food scraps attract predators such as raccoons and crows to the beach, and litter can entangle birds and other wildlife.
- If you see people disturbing nesting birds, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).