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Nesting shorebirds challenged by disturbances

By Staff | May 7, 2020

SCCF A least tern incubating a nest at Bowman's Beach.

On May 6, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht reported that there are three known, active snowy plover nests.

“One plover nest was lost to depredation, possibly crow or ghost crab,” she said. “We observed tracks of both in the vicinity of the nest.”

There are also two active Wilson’s plover nests, and potentially a third yet to be located.

“We had the beginning of a least tern colony at Bowman’s Beach, with a high count of four birds incubating nests on Sunday,” Albrecht said. “Unfortunately, they were harassed by crows continuously, and ultimately the colony failed.”

As of May 5, all of the least terns were gone. She reported that she observed crow tracks, tracks of people, and dog tracks inside of the enclosure around where the nests had been. The next day, Albrecht boated to North Captiva and found the tern colony had relocated there, where they nested last year.

SCCF A least tern fights to chase off a crow.

She urged all beach-goers to do their part in keeping the birds safe.

“We continue to see more unleashed dogs than usual, and large crowds of people around our shorebird nesting areas especially on the weekends,” Albrecht said. “Please leash dogs and respect our enclosures to protect our nesting shorebirds.”

For questions about shorebirds, email shorebirds@sccf.org.