To the editor:
Hello Lee and Collier Shorebird Stewards and Interested Friends. Our feathered friends who nest on Southwest Florida's beaches are back, and looking pretty lovey-dovey. Wilson's and Snowy Plovers, Least Terns and Black Skimmers are/will be assembling on our beaches in Lee and Collier Counties, so it's time for all who want to see them have a fruitful nesting season to gather as well.
Last two nesting stewardship seasons the Collier and Lee Stewardship Partnership Programs were very successful for both the birds and their stewards. We collectively engaged hundreds of people (weekends only) in bird watching, quick tips to help the nesters, collected essential data on nesting numbers/disturbances, and enjoyed ourselves while doing it. Thanks to that stewardship, as well as fewer storms, the birds nested prolifically. These two areas are among the most important in the State!
This year, we want to repeat these successes on engaging the public, plus our ongoing
interest in a couple citizen science pursuits:
During several weekends, continue to count nests and chicks of each species while stewarding (not required; data entered in state database by leaders).
Start a monitoring and chick rescue program for 5 or 6 commercial rooftops in each county on which Least Terns will be nesting (the chicks easily can fall off,
often without getting hurt, but can't get back). Stewards are welcome to do either or both Beach and Rooftop programs.
Volunteers are needed and you don't have to have any prior skills. All stewards receive training in both beach/rooftop stewarding (one engages people, the other finds you in parking lots possibly handling chicks) and counting birds. Tasks and schedule are flexible and we can use you whether you can only work one weekend or every weekend. Call or email with questions, too.
The Beach Steward Training will be Saturday, May 5, from 9 - 11:30 a.m. at Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park in the Pavilion at Parking Lot 5 (thank you to Robert Steiger, Park Manager for making this possible). This will include some beach training with the posted nesting decoys out there, as well as nearby rooftop training. Go to www.floridastateparks.org/delnorwiggins/default.cfm. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Southwest Florida Policy Associate
Collier County Audubon Society/Audubon of Florida