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Plover chicks documented on beaches as least tern nest returns

By Staff | May 21, 2020

SCCF A 12-day-old snowy plover photographed on May 19.

The week of May 13-19 marked the May count window for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Florida Shorebird Survey.

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht and Sanibel Sea School Educator Kealy McNeal surveyed the entire shore of Sanibel and Captiva to locate new nests and colonies, while checking on the status of existing ones and looking for shorebird chicks.

May and June represent the peak of nesting season in Florida. Shorebird chicks are present at most colonies by June.

“In addition to the breeding birds, we count all shorebirds as part of our year-round shorebird monitoring efforts,” Albrecht said.

On May 15, Albrecht and McNeal found a banded common tern with an alphanumeric band reading “E62.” It was banded as a chick in Maryland in 2017 by the U.S. Geological Survey.

SCCF A banded common tern.

Albrecht reported that there are: two active snowy plover nests with three broods of chicks; one pair of Wilson’s plover looking to re-nest after crows ate the first nest; and one pair of Wilson’s plover with one chick and one egg that never hatched, as well as a second chick that was possibly taken by a crow.

Two weeks ago, she was surprised to find a single least tern pair with a new nest at Bowman’s Beach after a first round of nesting failed due to crows. A second pair was seen copulating on May 19. There are an extra 20 least terns hanging around, but many of them are young birds, who are not of breeding age yet.

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