Bird Watcher’s Digest received a press release from the American Bird Conservancy that we think is worth sharing. We hope you’ll share this information, too, with your friends and family members who might not be quite so attuned to birds and other wildlife.
Beachgoers Asked to “Fish, Swim, and Play from 50 Yards Away”
Memorial Day marks the start of summer, when millions of Americans head to beaches to enjoy time in the sun. It’s not just people who flock to the shore this time of year. Many birds have already staked out their own space on the beach, choosing nesting sites on the sand and raising their young along the shoreline, in the dunes, and in nearby marshy areas. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is urging beachgoers to be mindful of breeding birds that share our vacation spots and help coastal birds this summer.
Tips to Share the Beach and Help Coastal Birds
- Watch where you step. Beach-nesting birds lay their eggs directly on the sand, and those eggs are camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings. ABC recommends that beachgoers avoid areas where large congregations of birds occur.
- Pay attention to signs. Visitors should respect areas that are roped off or marked with signs indicating that beach-nesting birds are in the vicinity. “The habitat for these birds is diminishing every year due to beach development, erosion, climate change, and ever-increasing recreational use,” Ray said. “We have to be mindful that while the beach is a place where we go to relax and have fun, the birds have no other place to go.”
- Teach children to play responsibly and avoid nesting areas. Encourage kids to learn about and watch out for birds. Ask them to play ball and fly kites away from posted areas to avoid disturbing bird families.
- Don’t feed gulls. Feeding them draws in even more gulls, which are predators of eggs and vulnerable chicks on the ground. If they become accustomed to being fed, gulls can also become a nuisance for people.
- Keep your dogs on leashes—or at home. Free-roaming dogs can eat eggs and chicks and even kill adult birds. Dogs can also overheat at the beach, so for their safety as well as that of the birds, they may be better off at home.
- Know the cues. Beachgoers often can’t tell the difference between a bird that is simply sitting on the sand and one that is tending eggs, a nest, or baby birds. But certain signals and behaviors indicate the presence of nesting birds. “You know you’ve entered a nesting area when large groups or individual birds vocalize loudly, dive-bomb your head, or feign injury to lead you away from their nests,” Ray said. “If this happens, back away and share the beach so the birds can successfully rear their young.”
- Stay close to the water. Most nesting birds tend to use higher parts of the beach, away from the surf. It should be possible to avoid conflict with beach nesters so long as people remain close to the water and away from the dunes or areas behind dunes.
Birds of the Gulf Coast
Birds of the Atlantic Coast
Birds of the Pacific Coast
About the Author
Out There With the Birds is the official blog of Bird Watcher's Digest, featuring engaging content, commentary, and creativity from some exciting new voices. New posts appear several times a week, so please check back often!