Visitor Sandy Krakowiak, of Asheville, N.C., takes a look
at three snowy plover eggs on the first nest of the
2012 season in Anna Maria.
Snowbirds of the tourist variety are excited about snowbirds of the feathery variety, and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring has paired them up in a new program.
Bird stewardship is more than birdwatching, with participants monitoring and protecting nesting areas, according to program creator Suzi Fox.
The program allows bird stewards to keep an eye on nesting birds on the beach in Anna Maria through a high-powered scope, sharing the scene with beachgoers on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The educational program is designed to demonstrate how people and birds can share the beach, Fox said. It also fills a void for nature lovers who want to see wildlife outside the sea turtle nesting season, which is from May 1 to Oct. 31.
"Winter visitors are excited about bird stewarding," said Fox, adding that visiting children and grandchildren also can get involved.
A sign invites beachgoers to come and take a look as birds nest, fish and protect their young. Within a few minutes of planting the sign, volunteer Glenn Wiseman had a half dozen people asking to see three snowy plover eggs, the first nest of the 2012 season and expressing concern about how long the parents had been off the nest, probably feeding.
Snowy plovers are a threatened species in Florida.
It's exciting to see such a rare nest, said Sandy Krakowiak, of Asheville, N.C., as Wiseman handed out cards picturing a half dozen shorebirds that nest on Anna Maria Island.
A Bird 101 program, scheduled on Thursday, April 5, at 7 p.m. at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, will include lessons on safety, using the scope and etiquette – both toward the birds and toward private property owners where the nests are sometimes located.
For more information, visit www.islandturtlewatch.com.
Volunteer for Turtle Watch
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring will hold volunteer training classes on Thursday, April 5, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.
Turtle volunteer positions for the 2012 turtle nesting season are filled, but prospective future volunteers are encouraged to attend the training session from 6 to 8 p.m.