JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before you head out to the beach to celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding beachgoers to protect vulnerable beach-nesting birds while you’re having fun.
Here’s how you can help:
Do the flock walk: FWC recommends you stay at least 300 feet away from nesting birds, avoid walking through flocks of birds and stay out of posted areas. Shorebirds and seabirds nest in shallow scrapes in the sand and their eggs and chicks are well-camouflaged, making them vulnerable to being stepped on. Walking too close to nesting sites can cause the birds to flush from their breeding sites, leaving vulnerable eggs and chicks exposed to the elements and predators.
Look for Critical Wildlife Area Closures: The FWC will put out signs designating critical wildlife areas on the beach -- avoid these areas as you enjoy fun in the sun. These areas are closed to the public to protect high concentrations of wading birds.
Keep fido at home: Even well-trained dogs can frighten shorebirds causing them to abandon their eggs and chicks. FWC recommends bringing your dog to a beach where they’re allowed and follow all leash laws.
Properly stash all trash: Trash and food scraps attract predators such as raccoons and crows that prey on shorebird eggs and chicks. Also, litter on beaches and in the water can entangle birds, turtles and other wildlife.
Leave fireworks to the professionals: Instead of bringing your own fireworks, the FWC urges beachgoers to attend an official event because the loud sounds and bright lights of personal fireworks can cause catastrophic effects on nesting birds and their chicks, as well as nesting sea turtles.