PHOTO: ALECIA SMITH
IF YOU FIND A NEST
Coastal areas have unique importance for many species of birds, offering critical breeding sites as well as rich sources of food for migratory stopovers. Booming coastal development and recreational use of beaches are eroding vital habitat and greatly reducing the areas where birds can feed and nest. You can help birds, and other wildlife, by ensuring that use of the remaining areas is compatible with wildlife use.
Keep your distance from Shorebird Habitat. Nesting and feeding areas are often posted with signs during breeding season. Even if these areas are not posted, be aware of the restrictions at your local beach and of activities that may not be appropriate for sensitive habitats.
Scaring a flock of feeding or roosting shorebirds—accidentally or on purpose—puts the birds in jeopardy, as shorebirds can feed only under certain tidal conditions. Disturbance prevents rest and feeding and can lead to reduced survival rates and reproduction. Never walk through an area where you see birds feeding, resting, or nesting. Instead, walk around, and you’ll help wild birds thrive by not disturbing them.
As tempting as it might be to get a close look at the cute chicks, this should be avoided. Even a single disturbance can cause adult birds to leave their nests and abandon their chicks, which can make the chicks and eggs vulnerable to predators and overheating. You will know if you are too close to a nest or chicks, as the parents will defend their nest by dive-bombing you, calling loudly, or feigning a broken wing nearby. Be a responsible beachgoer and bring your binoculars or a zoom lens camera and admire the shorebirds from a distance.