Coasts

Let 'em Rest, Let 'em Nest

Local kids protect coastal birds with cute and effective beach signs. Photo: Nolan Schillerstrom

Let 'em Rest, Let 'em Nest encourages South Carolina beachgoers to share their play-scape with coastal birds.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of birds use local beaches to forage for food, hatch their young, and rest during long migrations.  Disturbance to these birds can be life-threatening.  When we scare a bird off a nest, for example, it takes just minutes for the hot sun to kill its eggs or chicks. In fact, disturbance is one reason for the abrupt decline of species like the Least Terns, Wilson's Plovers, and Piping Plovers.

You Can Help!

Make a difference by following these seven simple steps while along the coast:

  1. Keep away from birds.
  2. Respect posted nesting and feeding areas.
  3. Don’t force birds to fly.
  4. Keep pets on a leash.
  5. Keep the beach trash-free.
  6. Be mindful of where you land your boat.
  7. Teach others to protect birds on our beaches.
How close to a bird is too close?  If birds react – calling loudly or taking flight – step back immediately.  A good rule is to stay at least 50 yards away, or half the length of a football field.

 What We’re Doing 

Audubon staff travels widely, visiting everyplace from sailing clubs to elementary classrooms to spread the word about protecting coastal birds.  School kids design the colorful protective signs we post on South Carolina beaches.  We've also involved a strong new partner in this work -- many thanks to the Charleston Animal Society and its members for helping to protect coastal birds!

PROJECT CONTACT:  Nolan Schillerstrom

These iconic birds are seen year-round in South Carolina, dive bombing the water to catch fish, and nesting in colonies in the summer. An amazing 40% of the Atlantic Coast's population nests in the state. It is difficult to visit our beaches and not see a Brown Pelican! Pictured are an adult (L) and juvenile (R) Brown Pelican distinguished by the great amount of white on the adult's head. Photo: Nolan Schillerstrom / Icarus Imagery
These large distinctive shorebirds are seen here year-round but South Carolina hosts the largest population of wintering Atlantic American Oystercatchers in the world. In summer, oystercatchers nest on beaches and on shell mounds at the edges of waterways as well as on some public beaches. Their unmistakable long orange beak is used to shuck oysters. Pictured are an incubating adult and a recently hatched juvenile. Photo: John Heideck
These tiniest of terns are only in South Carolina during the summer. Their small size and black-tipped yellow beak are easy ID markers. Least Terns are colony nesters and will dive-bomb and vocalize if you are too close to their nests. Parents bring food to their chicks for about one month after they hatch. Colonies need to be undisturbed. Frequent distractions can easily lead to chick deaths. Photo: Rajan Desai
South Carolina is a major stopover location on the almost 20,000-mile Red Knot migration to and from Arctic nesting grounds. Their spring travel coincides with horseshoe crab spawning, and knots fatten up on abundant eggs. Males are easy to ID in the fall due to their bright red plumage. It is vital to not disturb flocks of Red Knots because they are desperate to rest and refuel in order to survive! Photo: Gail Deterra
Nesting in the summer on most South Carolina beaches, Wilson's Plovers camouflage their nests very well. If you see nesting signs, stick close to the water - there may be a nest you wouldn't want to accidentally destroy just beyond the high tide line! Wilson's Plovers will feign a broken wing to lure you (the perceived predator) away from their nest or chicks if you get too close! Photo: Deborah Bifulco

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