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Calling All Texans to Share the Shore with Nesting Birds

Whether you love the beach for sunbathing, walking your dog, fishing, kayaking, or boating, please remember to take care of our coastal birds by sharing the shore.

by Alexis Baldera, Senior Manager, Coastal Programs, Audubon Texas

Kicking off summer means fun on the Texas Coast, and the need for a watchful eye. Coastal waterbird nesting season is upon us on islands and beaches across the Texas Coast. Birds such as Brown Pelicans and Roseate Spoonbills build their nests in trees while Black Skimmers and Terns nest directly on the ground. This poses a challenge as humans enjoy fun in the sun during this critical time for wildlife as ground-nesting birds are especially vulnerable to disturbance. Dogs, walkers, fishing, and boating can all be perceived as threats. In some cases, the disturbance is so great that the birds will abandon their nests when a spot becomes inhospitable because of continued disturbance.

Recently at Struvelucy Island in West Galveston Bay, one of Audubon Texas’s only Black skimmer nesting sites in Galveston Bay, a colony of skimmers and terns did just this. They’re gone. They’ve abandoned their nests after repeated human disturbance. Report of fishermen near the island with bright lights at night, and people landing on the island during the day are likely the causes of this abandonment. Audubon is calling on all Texans to share the shore when birds are in their most vulnerable time. Audubon recommends keeping 50 yards away from nesting sites to give birds the space they need to lay eggs and raise chicks. Not sure where? Look out for yellow signs identifying bird nesting sites.

Whether you love the beach for sunbathing, walking your dog, fishing, kayaking, or boating, please remember to take care of our coastal birds by sharing the shore.

Here are some tips for making our beaches safer for birds:

  • Give nesting birds at least 50 yards of distance if the space allows.
  • Respect the fences and signs and stay outside of areas marked as breeding grounds for birds.
  • If pets are permitted on beaches, keep them leashed and away from birds.
  • Remove trash and food scraps, which attract predators that might eat birds’ eggs and/or chicks. 
  • Do not drive on beach dunes or other nesting areas.
  • Do not boat close to breeding grounds at night, bright lights can disrupt natural nesting behavior.

Across Texas, Audubon leases and manages a por tfolio of bird nesting islands with help from many partners. Due to compounding threats like sea-level rise and habitat loss, coastal birds are facing a crisis—seabirds around the world have decreased by 70 percent since 1950, and shorebirds in North America alone have seen an even steeper decline since 1973. 

How you can help, right now