Is There a Nest Among Us?
The beach of Lovers Key offers several species excellent natural areas in which to nest. Over the next few months the park will be visited by Loggerhead sea turtles and various species of shorebirds: Least terns, Wilson’s plovers, black skimmers, and possibly snowy plovers will come to nest along the 2.5 miles of shore the park protects. Next time you’re out enjoying the beaches at Lovers Key (or any southeastern United States beach) keep these few easy tips in mind to ensure the birds’ nesting success:
If you dig it, fill it in: Both adult and hatchling sea turtles may become trapped inside holes left behind causing them undue stress and exhaustion.
Build it up, knock it down: Although sandcastles can be beautiful for everyone to experience, they can create obstructions that cause sea turtles to expend unnecessary energy as a nesting adult or hatchling trying to reach the sea.
Avoid disturbing flocks of birds resting: Everybody needs a place to rest, even the birds. Disturbing the birds, causing them to take flight, uses precious energy that they need to make long migrations.
Share the beach and heed the signs: Shorebirds need secluded spaces and nesting is easily disturbed by the presence of visitors. If disturbed, shorebirds often leave the nest as a group to try and “divebomb” an intruder. When parents are disturbed, unprotected chicks or eggs can overheat or be taken by predators such as gulls.
The best way to help all of our nesting neighbors is to keep the beach clean and remember not to feed wildlife. By keeping these easy tips in mind while at the beach, you can help ensure a healthy year for sea turtles and shorebirds, not just here at Lovers Key but at every beach.
Did you know that Lovers Key State Park has acres of beach roped off and signs posted to protect nesting shorebirds? To help encourage shorebirds to nest at Lovers Key, special decoys and a solar powered audio call system playing least tern and black skimmer calls are set out at the beginning of each nesting season. Next time you are at the park, see if you can find the decoys and hear the audio calls.