Shorebird Nesting Has Begun

Shorebird Nesting Has Begun!

Phipps Preserve, at the tip of Alligator Point, is home to many state and federally-listed bird species, including American Oystercatchers, Snowy Plovers, Piping Plovers, Least Terns, Red Knots, and Black Skimmers. A few of the species, such as Snowy Plovers, are consistently located at Phipps during any season of the year, while many other species, such as Piping Plovers and Red Knots, spend the winter at Phipps and then migrate to another location to nest.  Phipps Preserve was privately owned by John H. Phipps who chose to transfer his property to The Nature Conservancy to own and manage for the preservation of wildlife.

Audubon Florida conducts breeding and nonbreeding surveys at Phipps Preserve and partners with The Nature Conservancy and FWC to protect this vital habitat. During the nesting season (February through August), Audubon Florida locates and monitors nests, conducts outreach to the public and maintains posting.  At the beginning of nesting season, The Nature Conservancy, FWC and Audubon Florida work together to install posts and signs in the area to protect the breeding grounds.

At Phipps, the posting protects American Oystercatcher, Snowy Plover, Wilson’s Plover, and Least Tern nests and chicks.  Beach-nesting birds lay their eggs directly on the sand and the eggs and chicks are so cryptic that they are difficult to spot.  The posting reduces the chance of stepping on a nest and provides a barrier to reduce disturbance from human activity.  Beach walkers, boaters and their dogs may unknowingly be near a nest and the disturbance will cause the birds to leave the nest, exposing eggs or chicks to predators and the hot Florida sun.  Please help us protect these declining species by giving the posted area a wide berth to reduce disturbance.  Please remember, dogs are not allowed at Phipps Preserve and to leash your dog when visiting other beaches that do allow pets.

Audubon Florida is always looking for dedicated volunteers to chaperone nesting sites and help educate the public during peak visit hours.  If you are interested in volunteering, contact bsamuelsen@audubon.org. For more information, please visit www.FLBeachBirds.org and www.FLShorebirdAlliance.org.  Audubon Florida and our volunteers are happy to talk about beach-nesting birds and the importance of conserving these imperiled species.  Please ask us about the birds!