On the plus side, the count on the shorebird nursery on Sand Dollar Island is higher than last year’s. Chicks are skittering everywhere taking cover from the hot sun. According to the Collier Shorebird Stewards, by around this time last year, the crows had wiped out the nesting colony and the birds departed without producing a single chick. It is looking more hopeful this year even after Tropical Storm Colin.
Adam DiNuovo, Audubon shorebird biologist, is excited but concerned. He shared that dogs and the trash boaters leave behind are threats to shorebirds.
How do dogs disturb birds? An unleasheddog can destroy nests, keep birds off their nest as well as catch and kill chicks that are not yet able to fly. The parent birds will fly off and will not come back leaving vulnerable chicks to die in the hot sun. If continually flushed, birds are not able to rest and build up energy reserves for the next leg of their flight. Please note that on Marco Island, it is against County & City ordinance to bring a dog to our beaches.
TRASH: The boatloads of visitors to Sand Dollar Island bring with them food and theyalso leave their trash behind. Trash attracts predators like crows and raccoons. Once the crows start feeding on the trash close to nesting sites, the eggs and chicks nearby provide an easy “main course.” Parent birds trying to protect their young are no match for the black fish crows. On Marco Island, it is against County and City ordinance to leave trash on our beaches.
Tips on sharing wildlife: Have fun exploring and collecting shells; admire wildlife from a distance; leave your dog at home; please take your trash back with you and leave only your footprints behind.
Report violations: FWC Wildlife Hotline at: 1-888-404-3922 and to MIPD’s Non-Emergency Number at: 239-389-5050.