The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) thanks building owners for hosting shorebird and seabird species, such as black skimmers, least terns, roseate terns and American oystercatchers, that nest on their roofs from March through August.
Although shorebirds and seabirds typically nest directly on beaches along Florida’s coasts, as shoreline use by people increases, there is less nesting space available and birds increasingly use gravel rooftops to nest and raise chicks.
Building rooftops provide important alternative nesting habitat for shorebirds and seabirds, as most species nesting on rooftops are state-Threatened species, including black skimmers and least terns.
Notably, more than 50% of Florida’s least tern population relies upon rooftops for nesting. Shorebird and seabird nesting season takes place in Florida between February and August.
Building owners and managers play an important role in the success of shorebirds nesting on rooftops.
If you own or manage a building where shorebirds or seabirds are nesting on the roof, you can help by giving the nesting birds space and coordinating with your FWC Regional Shorebird Biologist.
To find a regional shorebird biologist near you, go to MyFWC.com/Shorebirds and click on “Shorebird Nest Dates and Contacts.”
For buildings that have shorebirds nesting on rooftops, it is recommended that routine maintenance and non-emergency repairs be conducted outside of nesting season, between September and February.
If unexpected repairs are required during the nesting season, building owners can work with the FWC’s regional shorebird biologists to determine if take may occur and how to apply if a permit is needed.
Don’t own a building with birds nesting on your rooftop? You can still help nesting shorebirds and seabirds wherever they nest:
• Say thanks to building owners that host rooftop nesting birds. If you are staying at a hotel or visiting a business that has rooftop nesting birds, thank management and staff for helping shorebird and seabird conservation.
• You can help the FWC monitor rooftop nesting locations. Contact us for opportunities in your area by emailing: Shorebird@MyFWC.com.
• Do the flock walk on the beach — keep at least 300 feet from nesting birds and walk around flocks of birds and stay out of posted areas.
Getting too close to nesting shorebirds, seabirds and wading birds can cause them to flush from their breeding sites, leaving vulnerable eggs and chicks exposed to the elements and predators.
• Keep Fido at home. Even well-behaved dogs can frighten shorebirds, causing them to abandon their eggs and chicks.
If you bring your dog with you to the shore, go to a beach where they’re allowed and follow all leash laws.
• Properly stash all trash. Trash and food scraps attract predators, such as raccoons and crows, that prey on shorebird eggs and chicks. Litter on beaches and in the water can entangle birds, turtles and other wildlife.
Beachgoers can help beach-nesting birds and other native wildlife by properly disposing of all trash, filling in human-made holes in the sand, and removing all personal gear from the beach before sunset. Fishing line can be deadly to waterbirds, sea turtles and other wildlife, so be sure to dispose of it properly. To find a monofilament recycling station near you, visit myfwc.com.
• Look for Critical Wildlife Area closures. Be on the lookout for signs designating Critical Wildlife Areas on the beach or coastal islands – these areas are closed to public access to protect high concentrations of wading birds and shorebirds while they nest and raise their chicks. Boaters and beachgoers can help nesting birds by keeping distance and noise volumes low near CWAs.
For more information, go to -MyFWC.com/Shorebirds and click on “Rooftop Nesting.”
Spring is an active time for many of Florida’s wildlife species. For more information on wildlife in Spring, visit -MyFWC.com/News and click on “Spring Wildlife News.”
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