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Shorebird nesting season winding down

By Staff | Jul 22, 2020

SCCF Adults molting out of breeding plumage.

Today, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht reported that it appeared shorebird nesting season is nearly over on Sanibel.

“On July 17 our last snowy plover fledgling took flight,” she said. “In total, we have had six nest attempts from five nesting pairs, and five chicks that survived to fledging.”

Last year, four chicks survived to fledgling from four nesting pairs.

“The success rate of one fledge per pair remains the same,” Albrecht said.

Plovers are now gathering in small groups and resting on the beaches, which typically indicates the end of nesting season.

SCCF Plover hiding in a footprint.

“Breeding birds tend to be much more territorial,” she said. “Please watch your step when you are out walking, as they are very well camouflaged and like to rest in the wrackline, or in footprints in the sand.”

The SCCF reported that the Wilson’s plovers and least terns were unable to successfully fledge any young on Sanibel this year. It is working closely with partner agencies, including the city of Sanibel’s Natural Resources and FWC, to assess predation issues and plan ahead to improve success in 2021.

“Last year our least tern colony failed due to predation as well, but the Wilson’s plovers did manage to fledge four chicks,” Albrecht said. “Though we did not fledge any least terns on Sanibel, they can be seen frequently on our beaches right now as they begin staging for migration.”

As migratory shorebirds start to return, keep an eye out for banded birds. To report seeing a banded bird to SCCF’s shorebird biologist or for questions about shorebirds, email shorebirds@sccf.org.

SCCF Least terns

JEAN HALL Banding a chick.