Blue-green algae and red tide along Florida’s shores last summer made visiting the beach unpleasant for people, and also had a significant impact on shorebirds, seabirds and wading birds that were sickened or killed by brevetoxin exposure. Many nests failed because birds weren’t able to find enough baitfish to feed their young while countless others were washed away by extreme weather.
Because it is difficult to protect birds from toxic algae and warming seas, we must do everything we can to protect them from their next biggest threat: human disturbance.
These tiny birds lay their eggs right on the sand. They perceive an approaching human as a threat and will take flight whenever people, or their dogs, approach too closely. Repeated human disturbance often results in birds abandoning the colony. If they can’t find a better location, their nesting season is wasted.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Audubon Florida’s bird stewards will be out in full force in locations across the state where people and beach-nesting birds comingle. These important ambassadors for nature help coastal visitors learn about the birds to better understand what is happening inside posted areas.