Wildlife Commission asks swimmers to watch for nesting birds

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Waterfowl nest and raise broods until August 3
(Photo: SkyWatch Bird Rescue)

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WWAY) Before hitting the beach this summer, visitors should remember to “share the shore” with beach-nesting birds, giving them and their eggs and chicks their space.

Waterfowl nesting is now underway along the coast, and NC Wildlife Resources Commission biologists are urging people to watch where they walk on the beach because these birds are very sensitive to human disturbance.

Eggs and chicks are well camouflaged and can be unintentionally stepped on and crushed by humans and pets.

Getting too close to a nesting bird can cause it to fly away, leaving the eggs or chicks vulnerable to the elements or predators.

Birds have their ways of letting you know when you’re too close,” said Wildlife Commission waterfowl biologist Carmen Johnson. “They will scream loudly and dive at you. Some species will pretend to have a broken wing to lure you or other perceived predators away from the nest and the chicks.

Because beachgoers may not recognize bird nesting habitats, the Wildlife Commission asks the public to observe the black and white signs posted by the agency and signs erected by agency partners around important nesting areas on beaches and islands.

The signs help people avoid nesting areas from April 1 to August 31 – the sensitive nesting and brood-rearing season – and advise that entering an area may result in the loss of eggs or chicks.

Wildlife Commission staff also remind boaters to watch out for nesting birds on islands, especially if they approach an island marked with black and white signs.

“You can help North Carolina waterfowl have a successful nesting season by observing them from outside marked areas and avoiding islands marked as bird nesting areas or unmarked islands where you see birds. breeders,” Johnson said. “Some birds nest near the high tide line, and the likelihood of disturbing nests and stepping on flightless chicks is high.”

Johnson added that it’s especially important to adhere to the “no dogs” rule on signs.

Not only is it the law, but one dog can destroy an entire nesting colony of birds in minutes.

Some islands that serve as beach nesting habitat are not marked with black and white signs, like many of the state’s swamp islands in the Sounds. Johnson recommends people give these islands a buffer zone between their activities and nesting birds.

Similarly, not all beach nesting areas are marked, so visitors and coastal residents should always be aware of their surroundings.

Swimmers can help protect nesting shorebirds by:

  1. Keep dogs on a leash at all times. Dogs can chase and harass birds, as well as trample nests, kill chicks, or crush eggs.
  2. Respect the rules of conduct on the beach. If driving is allowed, drive only on the lower part of the range and drive slowly enough to avoid knocking over the chicks.
  3. Properly dispose of trash when leaving the beach, including bait and leftover cleaned fishwhich can attract predators such as gulls, raccoons, feral cats and foxes.
  4. Discard the fishing line and kite string in an appropriate container. These materials can entangle and kill birds and other wildlife if left on the beach.
  5. Refrain from feeding the gulls. Gulls are a major predator of young chicks and eggs.
  6. Avoid flying drones and kites near nesting colonies. They can be mistaken for a predator.

Cooperating with these simple steps and observing posted signs will protect valuable bird resources and preserve our beautiful beaches and wild waterfronts.

For more information on beach-nesting waterbirds and how to protect them, download the “Birds Nesting on North Carolina Beach” Document yourself or visit the Wildlife Commission website webpage curation.

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