Bird Lovers Urge Caution Ahead Of Memorial Day Weekend

May 26, 2016

Black Skimmer family with chicks
Credit Jim Gray / Audubon Florida

Memorial Day weekend will bring thousands to Florida’s beaches.  Nick Evans reports environmental groups and state officials are warning visitors to be careful around shore nesting birds.

With temperatures climbing and a long weekend ahead, many people are grabbing the sunscreen and hitting the beach.  But Julie Wraithmell with Audubon Florida says there some other Floridians that are already there.

“The same thing that brings humans to the beach are what makes for favorable nesting for the birds,” Wraithmell says, “and they’ve been nesting on these beaches longer than people have been coming to them en masse.”

Shore nesting birds include American oystercatchers, least terns, snowy plovers and black skimmers.  Audubon is joining state wildlife officials like shorebird biologist Catherine Harris to remind beachgoers to share the beach with these feathered families.

“Their nests and chicks are really hard to see as they blend in with the sand,” Harrisa explains, “and what we do is we have a multitude of volunteers and partners that go out and look for these nests and birds and chicks and post around them to protect them and prevent people from stepping on them.”

But they can’t find all the nests so Harris says it’s important to keep an eye out for birds trying to defend their eggs.  Sometimes it’s obvious—like a bird flying at your face—but some species pretend to have a broken wing.  Shore nesting birds typically live up in the dunes close vegetation, so Harris and Wraithmell urge caution while beachgoers make their way down to the waves.