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Sarasota Thursday, May. 20, 2010 7 years ago

Bird nests shut down Siesta beach access

by: Robin Roy City Editor

After two snowy plover nests were destroyed at one Siesta Key beach access point, county-and-state wildlife officials quickly moved to close beach access No. 7 to prevent further disruption.

“Because it’s a federal- and state-protected species, there was a legal obligation to do something,” said County Commissioner Jon Thaxton.

Snowy plovers are a threatened species. The tiny birds blend in so well with Siesta Key’s white sand that their nests are virtually invisible.

“They’re remarkably camouflaged,” said Thaxton. “The only way to know you’re on a nest is by hearing the eggs crack.”

The last comprehensive count of snowy plovers was four years ago, and it revealed that there were only about 200 breeding pairs in Florida, with just 60 pairs making their home along the Gulf Coast.

Twice this month, beachgoers destroyed nests at beach access No. 7, which is at Beach Road and Calle de la Siesta.

“Given the dire straits of these birds — the dismal survival rates — drastic actions had to be taken,” said Nancy Douglass, biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The nests were cordoned off, but people still walked through the area.

“There were footprints in the roped-off area, and there were some clear signs of vandalism,” said Douglass.

There’s no timetable on when the beach access point will reopen, because a snowy plover pair is currently attempting to nest just north of it.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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