Here is the ninth in our series, “The Beauty Around Us”: Nesting Shorebirds.
As our beaches begin to reopen, here’s a look at birds that raise their young in the sand. Shorebird nesting season is underway now and will continue into the summer.
Snowy Plovers, Wilson’s Plovers and American Oystercatchers nest individually, while Least Terns and Black Skimmers nest in large colonies. Most “nests” are just shallow scrapes in the sand.
The young birds are extremely vulnerable to predation in the first weeks after they are born and are not yet able to fly. Common predators for eggs and chicks include crows, ghost crabs, gulls, coyotes, raccoons, and cats.
The tiny “fuzz balls” blend into the terrain and are very hard to see. Some nesting areas are marked by signs and rope, but the young birds may wander well outside designated areas. And, parents may nest where there are no signs.
Please be sure not to allow your dogs to roam free on the beach. The birds see them as four-legged predators and will fly off their nests if dogs approach, exposing eggs and chicks to other waiting predators.
For us humans, walking as close to the water line as possible, keeping an eye out for young birds and carefully avoiding nesting areas can help protect the babies. If nearby birds show signs of disturbance by leaving their nests, calling loudly, running away simulating a broken wing, or flying toward you, you are too close. Back away and respect our beautiful neighbors!
(The pictures in this post were made from safe distances using a large telephoto lens and many of the pictures are further cropped to give you closeup views.)
Photos by Eva Furner. All rights reserved.