Season may be over, but a new visitor has made its home here for the hot months ahead: beach nesters. From March to the end of August, these shorebirds depend on Marco Island and the emergent sandbar located southeast of Cape Romano, known as Second Chance, for their survival. From black skimmers to Wilson’s plovers, there are more than four species that make their homes in the protected beaches. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) in partnership with Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (Audubon) hosted its first of four “Breakfast with the Birds Lectures.”
The morning began with coffee, bagels and pastries served inside the Environmental Learning Center (ELC). Audubon’s Collier Bird Stewardship
Project Manager Adam DiNuovo was the guest speaker kicking off the lecture. DiNuovo and SarahFalkowski, Rookery Bay’s education coordinator developed this lecture series for the community. “Without her help this lecture series would not be possible,” DiNuovo commented. The two will alternate covering lecture topics as the months progress.
Having been in the area since April 2015, DiNuovo has closely monitored the nesting patterns of these creatures, and partnered with Rookery to help raise awareness of our co-existing buddies. For these shorebirds, each nest is critical. You can identify a beach nester’s home by the green band around its habitat. Ever wonder if you were too close to a bird’s nest? If a beach-nested bird becomes agitated or flies away, the answer is yes. It takes about 21 days for their eggs to hatch and they should all finish the process bythe end of June.
In as little as 20 days after, the baby birds begin to grow feathers and will begin to explore the surrounding area. With these tiny creatures roaming the open beach, complete awareness of your surroundings is dire.
How can you help? Spread the word, never walk through the areas labeled to indicate nesting shorebirds, and keep your distance. Remember to be careful on beaches where birds are present; there may be a nest or a few baby birds out in the open. With this partnership, Audubon plans to continue to fund and expand its research and monitoring program.
Taking action now is critical for preserving the future of beach and ocean ecosystems. With the available resources that RBNERR and Audubon provides, the local communitycan help keep Florida beaches healthy and safe for its wildlife. “Protecting Florida’s Wildlife and its natural resources is a priority,” Director of Rookery Bay Keith Laakkonen commented. “This lecture series supplements the efforts of our partnership.”
Next time you are at the beach, remember one bird you see and bring questions to the following lecture. The next meetings will be held June 1 (on migration), July 20 (on seabird restoration), and August 15 (stewardship and citizen science). If you haven’t checked out the ELC, there has been a new addition to the display. Be sure to visit over the summer and enjoy a day learning about our local area.
Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center is located at 300 Tower Road, Naples. To register for future events, visit www.rookerybay.org.