Be Mindful of Snowy Plover Chicks on Sanibel
Snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) nests are starting to hatch on Sanibel. Though SCCF’s shorebird team sets up large protective enclosures for these ground-nesting birds, they don’t always stay inside. They need to go to the water’s edge to feed, and sometimes they run out to escape predators. This means beachgoers need to be extra careful, watching their step, and always be on the lookout for these tiny birds.
It’s also extremely important to obey Sanibel’s beach laws, including keeping pets leashed, picking up all trash, and filling in any holes. Flightless shorebird chicks (and sea turtles) could fall in and become trapped. Currently, SCCF staff and volunteers are monitoring three snowy plover nests, and two broods with chicks.
State-threatened snowy plover chicks are precocial, which means they are up and running around and finding food for themselves within hours after hatching.
Typically, both parents will stay with the chicks for the first week or two. At a certain point, the female will leave the male to raise the chicks until fledging (flight-capable), and she may find a new mate and nest again.
SCCF staff and volunteers will be out on the beaches monitoring these nests and chicks until fledging occurs while educating beachgoers.
If you see us out there, please feel free to come up and ask us about the birds. We are easy to find in our SCCF hats and shirts, carrying binoculars and spotting scopes!
To learn more about how to protect these precious shorebirds, please visit sancaplifesavers.org.