Bird-Friendly Communities

Be a bird-friendly beachgoer this summer

Celebrations on the beach are fun for us, but to nesting shorebirds and their chicks, hazards are everywhere

Snowy Plover and chick. Photo by Mick Thompson(Creative Commons/Flickr)

Summer is here and many of you may be heading to the beach over the 4th of July holiday. While you enjoy your sun, sand and surf keep in mind the stakes are high for nesting shorebirds who may share the beach with you. The 4th of July holiday comes at a moment when many cute fluffly Snowy plover, Least tern and other shorebird chicks have hatched on California shores but aren’t strong enough to run away yet, let alone fly. 

Fireworks, balloons, crowds, noise and trash are just a few of the threats celebrations at the beach pose for birds. Marine mammals and sea turtles can confuse balloons for food. On shore, balloons join fishing line as dangerous traps that entangle and sometimes kill birds and other wildlife.

While fireworks may be enjoyable for us, they can spook a nesting shorebird parent from its nest leaving tiny chicks vulnerable to predators like gulls and raccoons. If you are planning to enjoy fireworks this holiday please do so responsibly by attending a pre-planned civic or community display.  Most cities plan their shows far from sensitive nesting grounds.

As you head to the beach keeping some basic rules in mind will make you a bird-friendly beachgoer.

  • Keep your distance from shorebird habitat.
  • Pay attention to signs that indicate nesting areas and familiarize yourself with activity restrictions at your local beach to protect sensitive habitat
  • Do not cross fences meant to protect wildlife
  • Keep pets on leashes. Don't let your dog chase or bark at nesting shore birds
  • Pick up your trash which can attract predators when left behind or entangle wildlife in the case of fishing lines and balloons.
  • Avoid feeding wildlife, which can attract predators to nesting areas

For more info check out Audubon’s Guide to Sharing the Beach with Shorebirds

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