Baton Rouge, La – As some states begin to reopen beaches, Audubon is calling on beach-goers to help make beaches safer for birds by avoiding their nesting areas. Due to the stay-at-home orders necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Audubon’s staff and volunteers have not yet been able to install the signage and fencing at all nesting sites that informs boaters and beachgoers to give beach-nesting birds their space. This is especially important during Memorial Day weekend, when there are consistently large beach crowds.
“Shorebirds are beginning to nest right now, and both the nests, eggs, and little hatchlings can blend right in with the color of the sand. Social distancing is not just important for people—it’s important that we keep our distance from nesting birds too,” said Karen Hyun, vice president for coastal conservation at the National Audubon Society. “Many coastal bird populations are in steep decline. Through education, monitoring and conservation, Audubon’s Coastal Bird Stewardship Program is key to ensuring that coastal birds can nest safely on our beaches. This year, we’re relying on our coastal communities to do their part to share the shore.”
“Louisiana beaches are rare gems in our coastline of marshes and swamps, yet they provide a place of rest, nourishment, and nesting for an amazing variety of birds,” said Karen Profita, executive director at Audubon Louisiana. “Each year, this important habitat is threatened by storms, subsidence, and rising sea levels. Please join us in committing to caring for these Louisiana treasures so we, future generations, and the birds can continue to enjoy them.”
On the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts, Audubon’s Coastal Bird Stewardship Program engages local communities to protect beach-nesting birds from predators and disturbance, like off-leash dogs or fireworks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Audubon is adhering to all local and state guidelines for beach closures, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders.
Here are four tips for making our beaches safer for birds:
- Give nesting birds at least 150 feet of distance if the space allows. Signs or people usually alert you to these areas, but many posting and fencing efforts are delayed this season.
- If pets are permitted on beaches, keep them leashed and away from birds.
- Remove trash and food scraps, which attract animals that might eat shorebirds’ eggs and/or chicks.
- Do not drive on beach dunes or other nesting areas.
As community leaders, Audubon takes seriously our personal and organizational responsibility to help stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result, we have closed all of our offices and centers, cancelled all events and have restricted many stewardship and monitoring activities to prioritize the safety of our staff, volunteers, and communities.
To learn more about how you can safely share the shore with beach-nesting birds, watch this PSA video.
Audubon's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity. Audubon Louisiana works daily to engage, conserve, restore and protect important areas shared by birds and people. See more at LA.Audubon.org.