Snowy plover nesting season began in February. To date, there have been 15 nests. So far this year, there are 11 fledglings from five nests; last year, there were only seven fledglings for the whole season. One nest is incubating and one nest has two chicks. Six nests were predated; one had eggs that were not viable; one was washed out and then predated.
The Snowy plover is a state listed species and generally thought to be on the decline due to habitat loss and disturbance. The two plover chicks most recent estimates indicate that around 200 pairs remain along the west coast of Florida, from the Panhandle through Cape Sable.
This year, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is also monitoring Wilson's plover nests. There have been two nests: one has hatched, with three chicks and a second nest has fledged three chicks. Nesting season will continue until mid-August and it is important to beachgoers help to protect these endangered shorebirds.
Please keep a few things in mind as you enjoy the beach:
• Honor the leash law. An unleashed dog can kill an adult bird or chick or trample a nest.
• Respect marked nesting areas. Too much human disturbance can cause birds to abandon their nest. Always remain outside of the staked area.
• Avoid flying kites near nesting areas. Plovers view kites as predators. A kite flying overhead can cause a bird to abandon its nest.
• Never chase birds on the beach. Shorebirds use the beach to nest, rest and feed. Forcing them to fly interferes with all of these activities.
• Fill in holes. Holes on the beach can trap chicks unable to fly. If trapped, chicks can die from predators or exposure.
Learn more about these nesting shorebirds at SCCF's Snowy Plovers program, offered on Thursday, July 21 at 10 a.m. Call 472-2329 for additional information.by AMANDA BRYANT and JOEL CAOUETTE, SCCF Biologists