The following article was written by Kylie Wilson, Audubon's Seasonal Bird Stewardship Coordinator for Sarasota County in 2018 and 2019.
The Black Skimmer colony on Lido Key is one of the largest and most productive in the entire state and the first colony to have chicks in the state for the past two years. In 2018, there were over 800 adults in the colony and around 250 chicks fledged. This success is largely due to Audubon's bird stewardship throughout the nesting season. Dedicated volunteers and community partnerships are what build a thriving conservation and stewardship program especially on busy public beaches. One of Audubon's newest community partners is the Holiday Inn on Lido Beach.
During the 2018 nesting season the colony of state-Threatened Black Skimmers was situated directly across the street from the Holiday Inn. While stewarding, I realized there was a need to educate guests staying at the hotel. Many beachgoers around the colony said they were staying at the Holiday Inn while visiting from out of state or from out of the country. Most people were fascinated by these noisy, large seabirds with bright orange bills and wanted to know more, a common effect that these quirky and unique birds have on people.
I reached out to the new Lido Holiday Inn manager and learned that she and her staff had also been getting asked about the nesting skimmers and wanted to learn more about them. Happy to help, she agreed to put educational pamphlets in guest’s rooms starting in 2018. Our partnership continued this year – and in addition to providing educational materials for guests, the Holiday Inn also donated use of one of their conference rooms for our annual Steward Training session! Thirty five people enjoyed the hotel's air-conditioned room on a warm spring day as they learned about the nesting biology of Black Skimmers, Least Terns, and Snowy Plovers - all state-listed species that nest in Sarasota County.
I am inspired by this partnership and happy to have the support of local businesses like the Holiday Inn on Lido Beach. It takes a village to protect these birds and thanks to partners like these, we continue to see the Black Skimmers succeed at their chosen nesting site.