COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will post signs and temporarily close portions of some Collier County beach areas to help protect nesting shorebirds. Sections of Big Marco Pass Critical Wildlife Area, known locally as Sand Dollar Island, will be closed as of April 9. Portions of Marco Island city beach (just south of Tigertail Beach) will be closed in mid-April.
Areas will remain closed until the end of nesting season in mid-August or until nesting is complete, whichever comes first.
This year, the FWC will not be marking off Caxambas Pass Critical Wildlife Area. Due to the tropical storms that came through last year, the island is now mostly underwater. “Since these birds have one fewer nesting site this year, it’s really important we that we carefully protect the remaining locations to sustain a stable southwest Florida shorebird population,” said FWC biologist Ricardo Zambrano.
The four species that nest in these protected areas are the least tern, black skimmer, snowy plover and Wilson’s plover. The least tern and snowy plover are listed as state-threatened, and the black skimmer is a state species of special concern. These three species are included in the FWC’s beach-nesting shorebird draft Species Action Plan, which is currently available for public review.
FWC biologists, with the help of volunteers, manage the nesting areas to maximize nesting success for these species. Nesting areas will be closed off with symbolic fencing, which consists of signs connected by twine and marked with flagging.
All of these species nest in the open and lay their well-camouflaged eggs directly on the sand, making them nearly invisible to predators and to the untrained human eye.
The closed areas on the beaches may change or shift throughout the nesting season, depending on where the birds have chosen to nest at any given time.
If you would like more information about living with beach-nesting shorebirds, go to MyFWC.com/Wildlife, and download the “Share the Beach with Beach-nesting Birds” brochure.