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Longboat Key Friday, Jun. 25, 2021 2 months ago

Bird of the week: Watch out for skimmers as holiday weekend approaches

Beach party animals must take heed of the creatures that got there first.
by: Miri Hardy Save Our Seabirds Contributor

We are in the midst of shorebird nesting season, and one of the three largest nesting colonies of black skimmers, a Florida state-threatened bird, is right on Lido Key.

  Indeed, nesting season, which takes place from May to August, is enjoyed by many locals and visitors.  This year, our colony had a rocky start, and was forced to relocate from their usual site, due to disruption early in the season, likely by a domestic cat.  But with more than 800 adult birds, and already 185 chicks, the 2021 nesting season is thankfully back on track. 

As black skimmers nest directly in the sand, colonies are extremely vulnerable to disturbances.  A single dog, even on a leash, a ball, kite, people running or biking too close, a drone and fireworks, can all create panic, causing the adult birds to leave their nests.   Eggs and young chicks (who aren't yet strong enough to run away) are then exposed to danger from the elements, as well as predators. 

Flightless chicks are also very vulnerable once they start venturing beyond the nest.  During hot summer days, adults and chicks gather by the water to cool down.  Older chicks, though not yet flying, also practice their skimming moves, an important step in learning how to feed themselves.

By giving birds plenty of space, and not walking, biking or running through areas where flocks of birds are feeding or resting, we can avoid separating them from their parents, which makes them an easy target for predating gulls and crows.  And to protect all of our nesting shorebirds, let's keep fireworks off the beach this holiday weekend.

Save our Seabirds is a non-profit organization whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release sick and injured wild birds.  Follow @SaveOurSeabirds to learn more about our birds.

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