Audubon: Careful of Nesting Beach Birds Memorial Weekend

May 24, 2012

Audubon Florida is reminding beach goers they won’t be the only ones enjoying the sea shore this Memorial Day weekend. The environmental group is asking residents to be watchful of birds nesting in the sand.

Audubon  Florida Director of Wildlife Conservation Julie Wraithmell said when beach goers get too close to a nesting site, it could lead to the inadvertent death of chicks and eggs.

“They can be stepped on. Their eggs are very well camouflaged. The other issue is that when people get too close, the parent birds often fly up off the eggs to try to scare away the intruder, but people are often not as receptive to the concerns of the birds that normal predators are, and so while the parents are up off the birds, the eggs are cooking in the sun, they’re vulnerable to predators coming in and eating them," Wraithmell said.

Wraithmell said beach visitors should be careful to respect roped off and posted areas, but she said it’s also important to keep a general eye out for wildlife at this time of year.

“If you see aggregations of birds, give them a wide birth. Once the chicks are hatched, they don’t necessarily know that they’re supposed to stay in the roped area, and in fact, many of them need to go down to the water in order to feed and stay cool," she said.

Wraithmell said often people “glorify” the image of a child running through a flock of birds at the beach, but said it creates chaos for those animals that can result in the death of a baby bird. Volunteers will be at many beaches this weekend, educating the public and even often even providing a way for visitors to see the birds safely.