Using Bird Stewards to Protect Nesting Birds on Busy Beaches
As well as relaxing in the sun, beach-goers can play a critical role in protecting nesting birds. In the Tampa Bay area, public beaches and dune habitat attract not only thousands of vacationers in the summer, but also threatened birds like the Least Tern and the Black Skimmer. Beach-goers (and their dogs) can lead to trampled habitat and predation of bird eggs, major contributors to sea bird declines on beaches around the country. Using a Toyota TogetherGreen Innovation Grant, St. Petersburg Audubon hired and trained “bird stewards,” to let beach-goers know how they can enjoy their beach experience, while sharing the beach with birds who depend on beach habitat to raise their next generation. Through their work, St. Petersburg Audubon was able to protect three nesting colonies and educate countless beachgoers.
St. Petersburg Audubon believes that continuing the presence of stewards during weekends and other peak beach days will lead to fewer birds abandoning their nests and chicks, and ultimately the survival of many of Florida’s endangered birds. We can share the beach!