TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Audubon Florida is hoping to encourage amateur fireworks aficionados to think twice before lighting off their patriotic displays, especially on the beaches.
“Most people don't realize that there are actually birds raising their chicks and young right now,” said Audubon Florida President Julie Wraithmell. "So on those beaches we have birds that have eggs and small chicks.”
The loud booms can scare away nesting birds, leaving their eggs exposed to predators
“Wildlife doesn't have your couch and a thunder jacket to bring them comfort and it can cause abandonment of entire colonies,” Wraithmell said.
Environmentalists are particularly concerned with the big fireworks.
They say smaller pyrotechnics like sparklers and fountains are generally fine so long as you pick up the mess.
“July Fourth is actually the time of year in Florida where we get the highest influx of litter,” said Aliki Moncrief with Florida Conservation Voters.
As far as the big guns are concerned, environmentalists suggest leaving it to the professionals.
“Go to that official fireworks display,” Wraithmell said. "Spend time with your community at a place where you can safely enjoy the fireworks for both people and wildlife.“
If you’re feeling particularly green Florida Conservation Voters says there are plenty of opportunities to do your part to reduce some of the impact.
“Folks can kind of do their own little litter clean up project or they can try to find one in their communities,” Moncrief said. "There's lots of day after events going on.”
Audubon says volunteer "bird stewards" will be on the beaches chaperoning bird colonies throughout the week, protecting the nests and educating beachgoers.
If the environmental concerns aren’t enough to make you reconsider your ocean view pyrotechnic show, keep in mind that it is in fact illegal to shoot fireworks on Florida beaches.