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Shorebird season lasts long on Lido

The area's nesting shorebirds flocked to Lido Beach this year, where their season has been successful.

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  • | 10:03 a.m. August 17, 2020
Lou Newman photo///Black skimmers spread out over Lido Beach.
Lou Newman photo///Black skimmers spread out over Lido Beach.
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Everybody loves Lido this year. Snowy plovers, least terns, black skimmers — every shorebird in the area is flying the coop on Longboat and Siesta and settling on North Lido. 

That’s on trend with past shorebird seasons, said Kylie Wilson. No shorebirds have really nested on Longboat Key since 2018, when a group of least terns settled onto a construction site that’s now too overgrown. This year, the mass of black skimmers on the public beach of North Lido has been hard to miss, but all three types of shorebirds have sought out Lido’s public beach to nest, or re-nest if their original spot didn’t suit them.

“Least terns particularly, most colonies in Florida don't nest on beaches anymore,” Wilson said. “They've adapted to nest on gravel rooftops. A lot of our nesting least terms in our area actually nest on rooftops because of a decreased habitat availability. So the fact that we have ... a beach nesting colony that's so successful, it's pretty exciting.”

It’s a nesting year that’s good, not great, Wilson said, and it’s lasting a bit longer than last year’s season. The season doesn’t end until the final chick is fledged, or flying on its own. At this point, few nesting birds remain but chicks are still testing their wings. Over 200 black skimmer chicks have fledged and Wilson expects over 250. The other colonies of birds produce smaller broods overall, but are still having an average year. 

“That kind of is how it goes with seabirds,” Wilson said. “They find a place where they're successful and other seabirds join in.”

Though they’re still partly secluded, the birds wound up closer to the public beach section of Lido than they normally would, and Wilson said that while it’s not definitely connected to the closed beaches in the early days of the pandemic shutdown, it could be. Fewer people means fewer nest disturbances, and since the beaches were vacant when the nests were laid, the birds got comfy. Wilson worried about the consequences of their chosen spot when the beaches reopened, but people have been fascinated by the birds and mindful of social distancing with their feathered friends when their settled spots overlap. 

“North Lido is just a really great habitat,” Wilson said. “There's a lot of vegetation but not overgrown vegetation. It's quiet because there's not a lot of close parking, so not a lot of people go that far out, and that's really what (the birds) need is a place that's safe and not going to cause a lot of disturbance to them.”


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