Monday, February 19, 2018

Black Skimmers Get on the Band Wagon


Over 100 chicks have been banded on Sand Dollar Island. The project will provide a better understanding of how these birds move around the state and beyond. Photos by Jean Hall

Over 100 chicks have been banded on Sand Dollar Island. The project will provide a better understanding of how these birds move around the state and beyond. Photos by Jean Hall

The black skimmer and least tern nesting colonies on Sand Dollar Island so far have the best productivity in the State of Florida or even the Eastern United States, according to Adam DiNuovo, Audubon Florida seabird biologist.

In a typical year, black skimmers fledge mid-August, but this year we will be seeing chicks into September. The colonies lost in the Panhandle are here in Marco Island with late chicks.

Read and Report: Focus on their legs. Note the time and location and send your sightings to adinuovo@audubon.org.

Read and Report: Focus on their legs. Note the time and location and send your sightings to adinuovo@audubon.org.

New this year at the nesting colony is the banding of black skimmer chicks. The 2017 Black Skimmer Banding Program is an all-volunteer project funded fully by the shorebird lectures Adam DiNuovo conducts at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples. The specialized bands cost $5 each – so each time you attend a lecture, it means a black skimmer chick gets banded.

When a chick is caught, Adam is trained to handle it carefully to avoid stressing or injuring the chick. It is measured, weighed and examined for any signs of injury or illness. These are the first banded black skimmers in Collier County.

 

 

Adam is hoping that the Sand Dollar Island 2017 banding project will help shed some light on the black skimmers’ movements. It is possible that our breeding colony stays in Florida only, making shorter and more local migrations.

Also getting on the “band wagon” and taking the lead in protecting nesting shorebirds, Marco Island’s Beach and Coastal Resources Advisory Committee has partnered with Audubon of Western Everglades for the 2018 Black Skimmer Banding Project.

What to do if you see a banded black skimmer on our beaches? Bring a pair of binoculars to the beach and whenever you see a colony of black skimmers, focus on their legs. The green bands are located on the lower right leg with a white letter C, followed by a series of numbers. read the band and report it, no matter how often you see it. Note the location and time and send your sightings to Adam DiNuovo at adinuovo@audubon.org. To take part in funding the 2018 Black Skimmer Banding Project, please email Adam DiNuovo.

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