Tampa Tribune Article about beach nesting birds
Here is an article from the Tampa Tribune that certainly applies to our area as well. The Least Terns and Wilson ’s Plovers that nest at Little Estero Lagoon are off to a nice start. I’ve seen over 150+ potential Least Tern nests, and quite a few Wilson ’s Plovers chicks this week. Hopefully the weather and disturbances will stay calm enough long enough for the eggs and chicks to make it to the fledging point, when they will have a much better chance of survival. There are still some sharp breeding plumaged shorebirds present, up to 25+ American Oystercatchers, and the young Roseate Spoonbills that do not return to nesting colonies in Florida Bay and the Tampa Bay area coming in to roost in the lagoon during the hour leading up to sunset.
Cape Coral, FL
Nesting Birds Find Peril At Every Tern
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Published: May 25, 2007
But it doesn't take much to stress the terns, herons and plovers sitting on sandy scrapes along Gulf beaches or guarding their young on islands in Tampa Bay .
With the busy Memorial Day weekend ahead, Audubon of Florida is urging people to steer clear of posted nesting areas and birds snuggled along the shoreline.
Volunteers will be out at some of the most vulnerable beaches throughout the weekend with spotting scopes and literature to educate the public on the nesting colonies and to contact law enforcement if they see anyone harassing the birds.
"I had an incident last weekend where people were walking along the beach on one of the posted nesting islands" to cast-net for bait, said Mark Rachal, a biologist with Audubon's Gulf Island Coastal Sanctuary. They left without incident after being told the island is off-limits to all but the birds and their Audubon caretakers.
"Ninety percent of people, when they know the story, want to help protect the birds," said Ann Paul, regional coordinator for the sanctuary. But there are cases of blatant harassment.
In one case last year, parents watched as their young son netted baby shorebirds along the beach. In another case, Paul said, a man was allowing his dog to chase and retrieve baby birds.
"Most people think a mother bird is incubating her eggs to keep them warm," said David Anderson, executive director of Audubon of Florida. "With Florida 's beach-nesting birds, the parent actually is providing shade to eggs and chicks during the day." One significant disturbance can destroy an entire colony, he said.
"It's a statewide concern," Paul said. "If we don't protect the nesting birds now, there won't be any left to nest in the future."
The holiday weekend beach and boat traffic will bring out more law enforcement, but the public needs to learn to set its own limits, Rachal said. The areas of particular concern are Islands 2D and 3D, just west of the Alafia River in Hillsborough Bay . Other popular nesting sites include Egmont Key and Shell Key in southern Pinellas County , along with Caladesi, Honeymoon and Three Rooker islands in northern Pinellas.
"I absolutely know that when people understand how vulnerable these birds are, the public is ready to help protect them," Paul said.
The small band of volunteers from Audubon's Bird Stewards will spread out along the coast to pass out brochures provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The brochures explain how people can co-exist with beach-nesting birds, said volunteer Monique Borboen-Abrams. "Most people do cooperate," she said.
FOR THE BIRDS
Florida's shorebirds nest along the coast and on bay and Gulf islands from February through August. When a person or dog gets too close, the parent birds leave the nest, exposing the eggs or young to predators and harsh weather. Frequent disturbances of birds may threaten their survival. To help:
•Avoid walking on the upper beach. Stay close to the water.
•Avoid running watercraft close to shore.
•Keep pets off the beach.
•Respect posted areas. Do not approach islands where birds are nesting.
•If the birds appear agitated, take flight or call repeatedly, you are too close.
Source: Audubon of Florida
Reporter Yvette C. Hammett can be reached at (813) 657-4532 or yhammett@....