It's nesting season for Florida's waterbirds, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Audubon Florida are reminding beachgoers and boaters to give these birds and their young space to help keep them safe.
By taking a few simple steps, people can enjoy a day at the beach or on the water without disturbing nesting birds and their chicks, which increases the birds' chances of survival.
Shorebirds and seabirds build shallow nests out of sand and shells on beaches in spring and summer, and eggs and chicks are difficult to see. Wading birds, such as herons and egrets, as well as pelicans, are also nesting now on islands around the state. Both types of birds can be easily disturbed if people approach too closely. Such disturbance can cause birds to abandon their nesting sites, exposing eggs and chicks to predators, sun exposure and other harm.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Keep your distance. If birds become agitated or leave their nests, you are too close!
- Respect posted areas.
- Never intentionally force birds to fly. When birds are chased or disturbed, they use energy they need to reserve for nesting and migration.
- Keep pets away from nesting areas. Even well-behaved pets can be perceived as a threat to birds and will disturb them.
- Keep the beach clean and do not feed wildlife. Food scraps attract predators such as raccoons and crows to the beaches. Litter on beaches can entangle birds, sea turtles, and other wildlife.
- SPREAD THE WORD! If you see people disturbing nests, etc., gently remind them how their actions may hurt birds' survival.
- Beach drivers - Please watch out for wildlife.