Audubon Asks for Public’s Help on Texas Beaches and coastal Islands this Memorial Day Weekend
Keep an eye out for Texas’s original “beach babies”
"This is an exciting time of year to be around or on the water," says Iliana Pena, Audubon Texas's Director of Conservation. "Some remarkable birds like Roseate Spoonbills, Black Skimmers, American Oystercatchers, Reddish Egrets, Royal Terns, and Brown Pelicans choose coastal islands to raise their young, and few things are more endearing than the fluffy chicks of these signature Texas species."
Unfortunately, when boaters or beachgoers approach nesting birds too closely, they may unintentionally cause the death of chicks and eggs. When parents are flushed from their nests, chicks and eggs are left vulnerable to opportunistic predators, overheating by the summer sun, crushing under foot (in the case of beach nesters), or falling and drowning in water beneath the nest (in the case of tree nesters). A single disturbance can destroy an entire colony.
"Whether or not the disturbance is intentional, the result for the birds is the same," says Amanda Hackney, Audubon Texas Coastal Program Manager, adding, "Together we can ensure this holiday weekend is safe and enjoyable for people and birds alike."
Each year along the Texas coast, Audubon staff, volunteers, and partners such as state and federal agencies, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuary Program, and others work to post signs on many of the state's beach and island nesting sites to prevent human disturbance. Not all sites are posted so keep an eye out for groups of nesting birds and move away from birds if they increase vocalization, fly off their nests, or other wise move away from you. Additionally, Audubon and other coastal partners have island stewards who help educate bay users and beachgoers about the breathtaking spectacle of these colonies while reminding them not to enter protected areas.
Citizens interested in safely viewing nesting colonies should remember the phrase, "Fish, Swim and Play from 50 Yards Away!" If you wish to learn more about the bird colonies or learn about volunteer bird stewarding opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for more information.
Audubon's Memorial Day Beach Tips:
- "Fish, Swim and Play from 50 Yards Away!"
- Anchor your vessel at least 50 yards away from nesting islands.
- Respect posted areas, even if you don't see birds inside them. Birds, eggs and nests are well-camouflaged on nesting islands, and a single disturbance can cause the abandonment of an entire colony.
- Keep children and pets away from nesting islands
- Avoid disturbing groups of birds on the beaches or on the islands. If birds take flight or appear agitated, you are too close.
- Do not leave discarded fishing tackle behind. Dispose of it properly.
- If you must walk your dog on beaches, always keep them on a leash and away from the birds.
- If you see someone disturbing or destroying a nesting colony of birds, please contact:TEXAS PARKS and WILDLIFE at 1-800-792-GAME(4263)
- For more information on this and other bird related issues please visit www.audubontexas.org and www.helpgulfbirds.org.