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Bird of the Week: Checking in with Ms. Sanibel

Tagged snowy plover heads north to nest after finding trouble on Sarasota-area beaches.

  • Longboat Key
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Ms. Sanibel is a snowy plover who hatched on Sanibel Island in 2017, and has been calling Sarasota home for a few years.  Banded as a chick, we can identify her, and therefore gather information about her movements and breeding behavior.  Such data informs efforts to protect our threatened shorebirds.

Many shorebirds, including snowy plovers, exhibit “site fidelity", returning to the same beaches yearly, where they nest directly on the sand.  Historically, barrier islands, such as Siesta Key, Lido Key and Longboat Key, had few land-based predators, thanks to storms and tide-surges. However, with bridging and development, our shore-nesting birds have faced disruption to their nesting attempts, due to habitat loss and degradation.  And, they are increasingly threatened by disturbances from humans and predators, such as cats, dogs and fish crows, who are on the beach because of us.

When shorebirds such as Ms. Sanibel have multiple failed nesting seasons, they move on in search of safer grounds.  Indeed, last year, mid season, Ms. Sanibel flew north to Caladesi Island State Park in Pinellas County, where she hatched two chicks.  This year, in what has been an extremely challenging year for our shore-nesting birds, Ms. Sanibel did not attempt to nest locally.  Instead, at the start of the season, she returned to Caladesi Island where she has already successfully hatched two chicks.

Nesting season is not yet over and we can still do our part to help give our shore-nesting birds a fighting chance.  Please always pack your trash out. Providing fish crows (a serious threat to our shore-birds) an easy source of food, encourages them to stay on the beach. And, please keep dogs off the beach, and house cats indoors.

Save our Seabirds is a non-profit organization whose mission is to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured birds, releasing as many as they can, while educating our community about preventing injuries and preserving habitats. 


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