Across the state at many important nesting sites, Audubon biologists and volunteers steward rare coastal birds and work to protect them from harm. One of these sites is Northwest Florida’s Navarre Beach causeway, a favorite annual nesting spot for a large flock of Black Skimmers and Least Terns. Each summer, bird-admirers stop alongside the road to watch or take pictures of the nesting adults and their fluffy, flightless chicks. Unlike other nesting sites, this one is in a prominent spot that cannot be missed. These terns and skimmers nest adjacent to a major road!
Roadside nesting of 150 Black Skimmers plus an additional 120 Least Terns is quite a sight! But it can also be dangerous if they get spooked and lift off to fly low across the road in front of oncoming cars. Audubon and our volunteers work before each nesting season to place signs along the shoulder of the road to keep people out of the nesting area and prevent just this sort of disturbance.
It may sound like an easy job except that this nesting habitat extends more than half a mile along the busy road. This season, Audubon sent requests out throughout Navarre for volunteers, and the response was overwhelming! People throughout the community came out to help the birds, including a local Boy Scout troop, the Navarre ROTC, members of the local high school football team, military veterans, and other caring citizens.
As if thanking the volunteers at the end of a long day of sign posting this season, a pair of Black Skimmers flew right over the group vocalizing with their barking 'yip.' The pair then landed in an open spot and settled down as all their admirers finished the protective barrier around them. It was the perfect way to end a long day.
Audubon Florida and the birds thank you, Navarre!