Plover Chicks Now on Beaches as Nesting Peaks

20 May 2020

The past week marked the May count window for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Florida Shorebird Survey. From May 13-19, SCCF Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht and Sanibel Sea School Educator Kealy McNeal surveyed the entire shore of both Sanibel and Captiva islands to locate new nests and colonies, while checking on the status of existing ones and looking for shorebird chicks. 
May and June represent the peak of nesting season in Florida. Shorebird chicks are present at most colonies by June. Pictured here is a 12-day-old snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) that was photographed by Albrecht yesterday.
"In addition to the breeding birds, we count all shorebirds as part of our year-round shorebird monitoring efforts," she said.
Last Friday, Albrecht and McNeal found a banded common tern (Sterna hirundo), pictured below, with an alphanumeric band reading "E62." It was banded as a chick in Maryland in 2017 by USGS.
Albrecht reports these nesting plovers: two active snowy plover nests with three broods of chicks; one pair of Wilson’s plover (Charadrius wilsonia) looking to re-nest after crows ate the first nest; one pair of Wilson’s plover with one chick and one egg that never hatched, as well as a second chick that was possibly taken by crow.
Albrecht was surprised last week to find a single least tern (Sternula antillarum) pair with a new nest at Bowman’s Beach after a first round of nesting failed due to crows. A second pair was seen copulating yesterday. There are an extra 20 least terns hanging around, but many of them are young birds, who are not of breeding age yet. 
If you have any questions about our shorebirds please email shorebirds@sccf.org. Learn more about our shorebird monitoring here.