Birds In the News

Group asks for your help protecting shorebirds when taking a trip to the beach

Audubon South Carolina is asking beachgoers to watch out for shorebirds as they hit the sand this weekend and throughout the summer.

This story originally appeared on WCBD News 2 on May 27, 2021.

Audubon South Carolina is asking beachgoers to watch out for shorebirds as they hit the sand this weekend and throughout the summer.

The group is working to ensure the nesting birds can safely raise their young this summer.

“They go hand-in-hand with the scenery around here,” said beachgoer Arthur Kilgo. “I don’t think it would be a good beach without some type of birds.”

Kilgo loves visiting the beach with his wife and enjoys seeing the birds. “It makes the scenery a little bit more pleasant,” he said.

Audubon South Carolina says seabirds around the world have decreased by 70-percent since 1950. So, they are taking steps to protect lots of birds.

“We’re at Folly Beach Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve but there are sites up and down the coast that have nesting birds right now,” said Allyssa Zebrowski.

They are protecting various birds by putting up signs and plastic fencing.

  • Keep your distance from birds. Give nesting birds at least 150 feet of space—or about half a football field—whenever possible. Pay attention to signs on the beach, which help alert visitors to particularly vulnerable areas.
  • Keep your pets on a leash. If pets are permitted on beaches, keep them leashed and away from nesting areas to avoid startling or chasing birds. Birds will abandon their nest if they see a dog nearby.
  • Don’t let your children chase birds. Birds are amazing and the urge to get closer is understandable! Instead of chasing birds, explain the importance of sharing space so these interesting creatures can thrive.
  • Remove trash and food scraps. Human food is not only bad for birds, but it can attract animals that are likely to eat shorebird eggs or even chicks.
  • Be mindful of where you land your boat. If you see coastal birds using the land, find somewhere else to land.

“Particularly Least Terns, Wilson’s Plover, and American Oystercatchers,” said Zabrowski.

We were able to see some birds feeding their babies while visiting the beach Thursday afternoon.

“That was a Least Tern, it is state-threatened here in South Carolina, which means that due to human disturbance and some other factors their populations are dwindling, unfortunately,” she said.

Due to coastal birds’ camouflage, they can nest directly on the beach. You can help by giving nesting birds at least 100 feet, or about six car lengths, of distance; steer clear of these roped-off areas and if pets are allowed on the beach, keep them leashed.

When boating, pay attention to beach and island closures, which are designed to protect vulnerable bird populations.

Kilgo says he understands why these birds need their space.

“I mean they nesting need to grow a little bit and by us being humans we messing around them, messing up their habitat and their little nesting areas; it’s just like somebody coming into one of our nursery areas messing with our little children and kids,” said Kilgo.

Bird nesting season essentially runs the length of summer. You can expect to see birds nesting in the area into at least August.

How you can help, right now