Monitoring the beaches for healthy shorebird populations

Three species of shorebirds nest on Sanibel: Snowy Plovers, Wilson’s Plovers, and Least Terns.

Shorebird populations are in decline due to development and human disturbance

Sanibel is home to 20% of Southwest Florida’s nesting Snowy Plover population, making it a very important nesting site.

SCCF’s snowy plover project began in 2002 and continues today. Staff and volunteers monitor the beaches daily, marking and protecting nests. Once the chicks hatch, they are monitored until they can fly.

Snowy Plover Facts

  • Sanibel’s beaches provide a year-round home to approximately 10 pairs of the state’s 220 pairs of Snowy Plovers
  • Snowy plovers nest and raise their chicks from February to August
  • They create a small depression in the sand (called a scrape) which serves as a nest
  • The female lays three eggs
  • The male and female take turns incubating the eggs
  • Chicks hatch about a month after the eggs are laid. They are able to run and feed within hours of hatching
  • The parents stay with the chicks until they are able to fly (about a month after hatching)

What can you do to help snowy plovers?

  • Respect signed nesting areas. Plover nests are really difficult to see. The posted areas prevent beachgoers from accidentally trampling the eggs in a nest.
  • Honor the leash law. Plovers view dogs as predators. An unleashed dog can destroy nests and kill hatchlings.
  • Be a respectful photograrpher
  • Adopt a snowy plover