Give waterbirds room to breed this nesting season. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Audubon Florida are reminding boaters and beachgoers to watch out for nesting birds.

“It is very important to limit the disturbance of nesting waterbirds,” said FWC biologist Nancy Douglass. “When these birds are forced to leave their nests, their eggs and chicks are left vulnerable to heat and predators. By respectfully sharing our beaches and waterways with these birds, people can help ensure their survival.”

Shorebirds and seabirds build shallow nests out of sand and shells on beaches in spring and summer, and eggs and chicks are difficult to see. Shorebird nests, eggs and chicks are well-camouflaged and can easily be missed and even stepped on unless people know to look out for them. The snowy plover, least tern, black skimmer, American oystercatcher and Wilson’s plover are several of Florida’s beach-nesting bird species facing conservation challenges.

Wading birds, such as herons and egrets, and pelicans are also nesting now. They typically nest in mangroves and on tree islands around the state. Nesting waterbirds can be easily disturbed if people approach too closely. Such disturbance can cause birds to abandon their nesting sites, exposing eggs and chicks to predators, sun exposure and other harm.

“With last year’s double-whammy of red tide and Hurricane Michael, coastal-nesting birds could be facing a challenging 2019,” said Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director of Audubon Florida. “Beachgoers and boaters can do their part by respecting posted areas—giving the birds some breeding room.”

The FWC has established Critical Wildlife Areas to protect congregations of one or more species of wildlife from human disturbance during critical life activities such as nesting, feeding or migration.

People can help keep nesting

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