AWE Engages Trained Volunteer Stewards in Community Science and Outreach to Protect Our Imperiled Shorebirds
What Do Stewards Do?
- You are trained in shorebird identification, optics and shorebird life histories and challenges
- You wear a cool “uniform” (“Ask Me About the Birds” T-shirt)
- You work beside a young biologist on beautiful beaches morning or afternoon on weekends (you determine your availability)
- You engage beach-going public on nesting and wintering shorebirds in a positive manner, and let them know how they can help
- You share your enthusiasm with friends and family
- You look for banded birds and report band re-sightings, which helps track population trends
Fun Facts about Southwest Florida’s Shorebirds
- Collier and Lee Counties are home or stopover landings for several federally or state-listed shorebird species.
- Southwest Florida has some of the few remaining natural shorelines in Florida, which attract unusual numbers of both wintering and summer nesting shorebirds.
- Beach nesting birds are declining worldwide due to coastal development, sea level rise and changing weather patterns, predation, and ocean habitat degradation leading to declining fish stocks.
- Predation by crows, rats and gulls often is correlated with uncontained human trash. Dogs and drones disturb roosting and nesting birds. Audubon’s Shorebird Stewards educate beachgoers about these hazards.
- Nesting shorebird colonies with stewardship initiatives statistically have better outcomes for birds than those without. In response, AWE and its partners seek support in the form of grants, donations and volunteers.
- Odd as it seems, federally and state-listed Least Terns have resorted to nesting on flat gravel commercial rooftops due to loss of beach habitat. When we find them, AWE Stewards monitor rooftop colonies, occasionally having to rescue chicks in danger of harm.
- Huge migratory shorebird flocks roost on our beaches. They need to rest and fatten up for Spring breeding season, which for many like Red Knots is in the Arctic.