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FWC to Beachgoers:  Do Not Disturb Nesting Birds

tern on sign 125.gifDuring the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds beachgoers statewide to be mindful of nesting birds. The eggs and chicks of nesting birds are delicate and susceptible to harm from disturbances that cause adults to fly off the nests.

“Just approaching a bird is enough to flush it away from its nest,” said Ricardo Zambrano, an FWC biologist. “When birds fly off their eggs, it exposes the chicks to predators.”

Injuries to unprotected eggs or chicks can happen quickly, either from predators or even from the intense heat of direct sunlight.

Sun worshipers can help protect the birds by moving parties, picnics or fireworks away from nesting areas.

nesting snowy plover 200.gifThis time of year, a variety of protected birds nest on Florida’s beaches, including terns, black skimmers, snowy plovers and Wilson’s plovers.

The FWC and other agencies posted signs earlier this year around many nesting areas on Florida’s beaches. These closed areas protect nesting birds from unnecessary disturbances and prevent humans from stepping on their nests. All of these species nest in the open and lay well-camouflaged eggs directly on the sand, making them nearly invisible to predators and to the untrained human eye.

“We need the public’s help in protecting these spectacular birds while enjoying the beach," Zambrano said. "Beach-nesting birds are part of Florida’s unique natural heritage."

For more information on nesting shorebirds, go to .

Photo of snowy plover by Nancy Douglass

This information originally published on May 21, 2009.

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