Shorebird nesting season has begun; please do your part to help keep them safe

February 27, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

BY T MICHELE WALKER – The beaches of Boca Grande are home to many species of shorebirds and seabirds. Charlotte County hosts three species of shorebirds, the Wilson’s plover, Snowy plover and American oystercatcher, and two species of seabirds, Least tern and Black skimmer. Boca Grande’s pristine and undeveloped stretches of beach provide a place where shorebirds can lay their eggs and raise their young, as they prefer isolated undisturbed areas.

Each nesting season, temporary fencing, stakes, string, flagging and educational signs are placed around the nesting areas to provide a safe buffer zone for shorebirds to nest and raise their young. When visiting beaches, please avoid posted shorebird/seabird nesting areas and leave your dog at home. Dogs are seen as predators and have the potential to disturb critical nesting activities.

With the coastline experiencing rapid growth and widespread coastal development, shorebirds and seabirds have few places left to go and are competing for suitable habitat to incubate and raise their young. Human-related conflicts (foot traffic, pets, and pollution) are increasingly impacting resting, foraging, and nesting habitats and behaviors. Due to the decline in undisturbed beaches, nesting shorebirds utilize the same beaches as the public. Repeated disruptions from people and pets can cause the birds to take flight and endanger the survival of the eggs and chicks. All shorebirds and seabirds are protected under the Migratory Treaty Act.

“We have volunteer monitors watching the beach. All of the organizations on the beach work closely together and we have excellent communication,” said Susan Foley-Pieri of Charlotte County Parks & Natural Resources.