Shorebird Nesting Season Underway
SCCF’s staff and volunteers are hard at work locating, protecting, and monitoring nests on Sanibel, Captiva, and several other sites in the region. SCCF is monitoring five snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) nests on Sanibel. Snowy plovers are a state-threatened species vulnerable to various threats, including habitat loss due to coastal development, recreational use of beaches, predation, and storms. The birds and their nests are incredibly well camouflaged and must be given a protective buffer to prevent accidental destruction by beachgoers or vehicles.
As part of our long-term research on snowy plovers, chicks and some adults are banded with unique color combinations that help us track their movements on Sanibel and across their range in Southwest Florida. Many of our Sanibel chicks go on to nest in other locations after fledging.
Currently, there are two banded males nesting on Sanibel. “White/Blue” was banded as an adult in 2019 and has fledged chicks successfully every year since. Based on reports, it appears he winters on Anclote Key off Tarpon Springs and returns to Sanibel in the spring. In this photo, White/Blue’s mate shades her eggs from the hot sun.
Also nesting on Sanibel this season is “Blue/Black,” a 2020 fledgling from Sanibel. He traveled back and forth between Sanibel and Caladesi Island in Dunedin in 2021 but was never confirmed nesting. This year, he has found a mate and is currently digging nest scrapes in preparation for his mate to lay eggs.
In addition to snowy plovers, SCCF staff and volunteers monitor nesting Wilson’s plovers (Charadrius wilsonia) and least terns (Sternula antillarum)—both start nesting in April.
If you want to learn more about how you can help protect these vulnerable beach-nesting birds, visit sancaplifesavers.org or send an email to email@example.com.
Photo of White/Blue by Shorebird Intern Elsa Wilson