As expected, Tropical Storm Colin resulted in some terrible news for Florida's coastal nesting species. Audubon staff from around the state are sending in reports of devastating losses of chicks and eggs. But among those reports are slivers of hope and remarkable tales of survival.
For example, take a look at the above image. Audubon supporter Lou Newman took this photo in southwest Florida just as the winds and rain from the storm were subsiding. Although the effects of the storm killed dozens of chicks and washed out hundreds of eggs, this dedicated Black Skimmer mother did everything she could to make sure her chicks survived. Notice her weather-beaten feathers, covered in sand. And then look at her babies, nestled safely under her wing. Remarkable.
Shorebirds have been nesting on Florida's beaches forever. Over generations, they have learned to adapt to the Gulf Coast's seasonal pattern of tropical weather. Where nests were lost, Snowy Plovers, Black Skimmers, and Least Terns will try again.
Audubon Florida's role now is to assess the nest sites, monitor new nesting, watch for courtship behavior, and redouble our stewardship efforts for the birds that remain and renest.
If anything, this experience will be a teaching tool to help people realize all that the birds are up against, and that the public can play a role in their future success. Together, we are making a difference for our coastal birds.