2017 Bird Stewards Needed

Click here for the July 2017 Bird Steward Update : Help is Still Needed!

Help Beach Nesting Birds Survive the Summer Beach Season

I am reaching out before the big 4th of July holiday weekend. This year, it'll be a 4-day weekend of stewardship and will require all hands on deck! If you still need to sign up for a shift or are interested in helping for the weekend, please look at each site requiring stewardship and contact its respective anchor steward or coordinator. Each site is looking for more help from Saturday - Tuesday, throughout the day:

St. Pete Beach, Indian Shores, Clearwater Point

Monica Craig - mcraig@audubon.org

Ft. De Soto - North Beach

Kealy McNeal - kmcneal@audubon.org

3 Rooker Islands and Anclote Key

Jessica Lewis - jlewis@audubon.org

Sand Key

Paul Ingham - paulingham.psai55@gmail.com

Holley Short - hshort@audubon.org

If you have already signed up, thank you! Your dedication to the birds is incredible, and we appreciate it endlessly! My goal in this email to make sure everyone is on the same page for the weekend. It's a list of key points for the newbies and a quick refresher for the veterans. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email! "Share the Beach with Beach-Nesting Birds" brochures can be viewed or downloaded at the following link: http://fl.audubon.org/sites/g/files/amh666/f/audubon_beachdocentmanual_april2016.pdf

Tips for Sharing the Shore:

  • Keep your distance. If birds become agitated, leave their nest, calling at you, or performing a broken-wing display, it's time to step back. As a steward, it's our duty to set a good example and do the same! Point out these behaviors to beachgoers before they approach a nesting site.
  • Respect posted areas. It's always a great idea to approach people sitting or playing near a posted area. Being proactive by sharing information about our nesting birds before there is an issue can help prevent an issue. Gently remind beachgoers that the area is off limits (explain why!), while pointing out that toys such as kites and balls that are too close can easily disturb the birds. Let them know where they can safely play with their toys so they don't accidentally go into the posted area. Any lost objects within a colony should be left alone unless it can be removed by a steward safely without further disturbance (please call your anchor or coordinator for help).
  • Never intentionally force the birds to fly. Now that colonial chicks are moving down to the water's edge (normal behavior!), we must be proactive in pointing out the resting adults and their chicks in the flock. Ask beach walkers and runners to walk around the flock as best as they can without causing too much disturbance. Flushing birds can waste energy needed for parent birds to raise their young.
  • Keep fireworks away from a nesting site. Fireworks can cause abandonment of nests and chicks. At your site, remind beachgoers to set off fireworks outside of the recommended area to ensure safety for the nesting bird families. Be proactive! Signs will be placed at recommended distances at each site. There will also be plastic fencing set up by volunteers on the night of the 4th to prevent chicks from running from the colony and getting lost. If you are interested in helping, please contact the respective anchor or coordinator.
  • Keep pets away. Dogs are not allowed on the beaches where our nesting shorebirds are. Please remind any pet owners you encounter of this ordinance and ask that they stay away from the nesting site. If it is a service animal, it must be leashed and kept away from nesting shorebirds.
  • Keep the beach clean. A steward can educate beachgoers that feeding wildlife is not allowed and that feeding birds is unhealthy for them. Feeding wildlife can attract predators to nesting sites! Other kinds of litter including discarded fishing line and plastic bags can entangle shorebirds and harm other marine life.
  • Spread the word about the birds! If you are unable to steward during this weekend, please let people know to watch out for nesting shorebirds at their beach. Give them these tips to help share the shore!

Remember, we are here to educate, not enforce. We are here to be proactive, not reactive! As stewards, we are asking the public to appreciate the nesting shorebirds and help protect them. Approaching situations positively and calmly can get the results we want for our precious shorebirds. Many people are not aware of the nesting or how they can help. It is up to us to provide that information for them to be respectful and share the shore.

Thank you all again, and I hope to see you out on the beach stewarding this weekend!

Holley Short

Project Manager

Bird Monitoring & Stewardship

Audubon Florida