One way to open your eyes is to ask, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again? – Rachel Carson, “Silent Spring”
It is brutally hot out there in the sand “tundra” of Sand Dollar Island. Sometimes you might have a difficult time looking for the eggs and chicks. They are well camouflaged and can easily be missed and even stepped on.
It was right after thestorm and eggs were spread out all over. Jean Hall, shorebird stewards, first felt panic – but suddenly she noticed small heads start to peek out from under least terns sitting in all those abandoned eggs. How remarkable that these tiny chicks are emerging in that mass of washed out eggs. Another remarkable thing to note is that black skimmers are incubating least tern chicks! Usually they are super-aggressive toward other species. Unfortunately, the fish that the black skimmers would bring in to feed the chick will probably be too big for the least tern chick to swallow. He may not make it.
If you are a shorebird chick on Sand Dollar Island it will come down to survival of the fittest. For now, the chicks are giving it a fighting chance.
July 4th holiday weekend will be very critical for the chicks. They will be battling the weather along with theassault of boatloads of humans bringing along their pet dogs. According to Nancy Douglas of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), following a few steps while enjoying the beach can help make sure shorebird will survive.
Tips to give the shorebird chicks a chance of survival:
• Keep your distance. If a shorebird becomes agitated,
you are too close.
• Respect posted areas. These are active nesting sites.
• Never intentionally force birds to fly.
• Do not takeyour dog to Sand Dollar Island.
In just 30 seconds, a dog can cause total
destruction of an entire nesting area.
• Keep the beach clean. Trash attracts predators like crows and raccoons. Fish crows will fly away with an egg or a young chick.
What can you do to help?
• Report any violations to the FWC Wildlife
Alert Hotline: 888-404-3922.
• For injured birds, please call the Wildlife Clinic of
the Conservancy of Southwest Florida at 239-262-2273.
• Call the Marco Island Police Department non-
emergency number: 239-389-5050.