Coastal Conservation

Hurricane Elsa Impacts on Gulf Coast Beach-Nesting Birds

A summary.

Big Marco Pass Critical Wildlife Area (CWA), Collier County

210 Black Skimmer chicks survived without any apparent losses. No nests lost to overwash. The colony was nesting on higher ground above the reach of storm surge. In additional good news, three of four broods of Wilson’s Plovers chicks survived also.

Second Chance CWA, offshore Collier County

Least Tern adults were drastically reduced in number but a small Black Skimmer colony and Wilson’s Plovers may have survived. More information coming in future survey when conditions are safer.

Caxambas CWA, offshore Collier County

The shoal partially flooded on Wednesday. Larger Least Tern chicks survived but eggs and small chicks were lost. More information coming in future survey when conditions are safer.

Little Estero Island CWA, Fort Myers Beach, Lee County 

Waves overwashed in Least Tern nesting area, but most chicks were already fledged. All 16 remaining nests lost to flooding. Small Black Skimmer chicks lost but older chicks survived.

Lido Beach, Sarasota County

40-50 Black Skimmer nests/chicks in nests were lost. The 190 fledged and young chicks survived. Least Tern nests and chicks survived on South Lido Beach and some chicks even hatched during the storm! In fact, chicks actually hatched day of storm. One Least Tern nest survived on Longboat Key, Manatee County ,and two of the four chicks survived, plus one Snowy Plover nest inside the posted area for the Least Terns.

Fort DeSoto

 The one remaining Wilson’s Plover nest with eggs survived, with high water marks right up to the nest cup.

St. Pete Beach, Pinellas County 

Lost 50 of 80 Black Skimmer nests with eggs. Lost about half of the 10-15 chicks. This colony is likely to re-nest.

Indian Shores, Pinellas County

Lost all 16 remaining nests and 19 chicks. Majority of chicks were older and survived.

Three Rooker

Islands experienced overwash, losing more than 10 Black Skimmer nests and 2-4 downy chicks. Still, 10 feathered chicks and 30 adults remain on the south island, and 25 chicks and 200 adults on the north island.

Thousands of Royal, Sandwich, and Caspian Terns are on the south island. Royal and Sandwich Terns are on the beach, as well as 10-25 pairs of Caspian Terns. Chicks are near-fledging.

Clearwater Beach/Point, Pinellas County

All active nests lost to overwash from storm surge on high tide. Two feathered chicks survived. This colony likely to re-nest.

Rooftop-nesting Least Terns in Four Counties around Tampa Bay

These chicks had mostly fledged prior to Elsa. Chicks found on the ground around buildings were already fledged.

Dog Leg Key and others in Intracoastal Waterway

No significant erosion or toppled mangroves. We do not anticipate impacts to NE Hillsborough Bay islands or its associated high concentrations of nesting wading birds and shore/seabirds.

Eastern Panhandle

No known nest or chick losses.

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