SPAS Bird Steward Program

Be a Bird Steward.

Becoming a bird steward is a way to directly involve yourself in shorebird conservation. Sitting out on a beautiful beach, listening to the mix of birds calling with the soft crashing of waves, and protecting fluffy chicks can be a rewarding way to spend your time.

Along the coasts of Florida, particularly the Gulf coast and right here in Pinellas County, Florida’s four protected shorebird and seabird species nest and raise their young. They are listed in the state as threated because they are vulnerable to habitat loss caused by coastal development, sea level rise, and climate change. As the beaches become narrower and the human population becomes denser, these birds are losing important places to lay their eggs.

How can we change this? Bird stewards play an important role in conservation. By participating in the shorebird stewardship program, volunteer bird stewards educate the public through engagement and a first-hand look at fluffy shorebird chicks. Seeing one of these young birds just starting off at life can tug at the heartstrings of almost any person visiting the beach. When stewards educate, they increase awareness of the plight of these quickly declining species. Stewards are vital to ensuring the safety of adult birds, their nests, and their growing chicks.

St. Pete Audubon is looking for volunteers interested in becoming bird stewards. Our program focuses on Outback Key, a shoal just off the north tip of Ft. De Soto County Park. Stewards will be transported by a volunteer boat captain to the shoal during the weekends for four-hour shifts where they'll provide information to beachgoers willing to learn more about the birds. Training and educational materials are provided. This is a rare chance to be directly involved in the conservation of a threatened shorebird species.

Want to help and have a boat? You and your boat are both needed. SPAS needs volunteer Captains to ferry bird stewards on and off Outback Key.

To join the Bird Steward Program, please contact Holley Short at conservationchair@stpeteaudubon.org.

Outback Key , 03/2019 - D. Savecool