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Fort Myers Beach Shorebirds Are a Big Success!

The breeding season for shorebirds is winding down, and we are happy to say it has been a very successful season. The birds have benefited from the increase in sandy open-beach habitat, the presence of native dune flowers and bushes, newly formed mudflat areas with lots of foraging opportunities, and the decrease in disturbances this year.

We would like to sincerely thank all our Shorebird Stewarding volunteers who joined us this summer on the beach, educating beachgoers about the shorebirds, picking up marine debris, taking incredible photographs, and observing the colony. Your time and energy are greatly appreciated, and made a big difference for the birds!

About the Birds!

Snowy plovers have seen a massive increase in breeding success this year, with 19 chicks fledged on Fort Myers Beach, compared to one chick in 2022. Five nests were located on a new section of beach where nesting had not occurred previously, and the families had great success with fledging most, if not all, of the chicks from each nest. This is a contribution of nearly 5% to the population of the species in Florida, as the Florida Shorebird Alliance estimates the totaladult breeding population of snowy plovers was only 412 in Florida in 2021.

Wilson’s plovers had a good year in 2023 with 22 chicks fledged, compared to 13 chicks in 2022. Several nests were in new areas that had not previously been used for nesting, including several back yards of beachfront homes bordering the Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area (LEICWA). There were estimated to be 917 breeding adult Wilson’s plover in Florida in 2021.

Least terns had a great year on Fort Myers Beach, despite losing a previous colony location in the LEICWA due to vulnerability to storm over-wash. The terns more than made up for this by nesting in great numbers on Carlos Beach, and fledging over 200 chicks, compared to a total of 55 chicks from both sites in 2022. In 2022 the least terns faced many setbacks from storm flooding, king tide flooding, and laughing gull predation; luckily these issues were not as prevalent this year. There were estimated to be 13,413 least tern breeding adults in Florida in 2021.

Black Skimmers did very well on Carlos Beach this year, possibly in large part due to the sand spur grass being less prevalent in their nesting area, and less harassment of the colony by laughing gulls this year. This year over 350 chicks were fledged from the colony, compared to about 60 in 2022. There were estimated to be 6,832 breeding adult black skimmers in 2021.

Join us in October!

Winter shorebird stewarding will begin in October this year, as we try to capture more data about shorebird migration and overwintering patterns! Join our Shorebird Steward once a week on a free shorebird ID walk at either Bunche Beach or Fort Myers Beach. This is a great chance to learn tricky wintering shorebird ID, and to help

our shorebird steward record data. Contact Robin Serne for details:



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