Shorebird art contest: Kids celebrating mothers and chicks
Beginning today – just in time for Mother’s Day – the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Audubon Florida are launching an art contest for kids to celebrate moms and raise awareness about beach-nesting shorebirds and seabirds in Florida. The winning drawing will be announced on Mother’s Day and made into a sign to help protect important shorebird nesting sites. The winner will also receive a prize pack, including family admission to Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary or the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey and more!
“By involving Florida’s youth in a contest like this, we are teaching them to treasure and respect Florida’s native species,” said Commission Chairman Brian Yablonski. “As we work to establish more Critical Wildlife Areas throughout the state, it seems only appropriate that we involve children in our efforts to help conserve Florida’s wildlife for future generations.”
The FWC is initiating a statewide effort to conserve these birds as well as other vulnerable wildlife by designating more CWAs throughout the state. Staff are working to compile a package of potential new CWAs for discussion at the June Commission meeting. They will be looking at areas known to be significant rookeries susceptible to human disturbances.
Kids aged 12 and under can help with shorebird conservation by drawing a picture of a shorebird mother with at least one chick or egg. Each picture should include a few words or a short sentence about how people can help shorebirds. For inspiration, a photo album of shorebird mothers and their chicks, along with specific species information, is on the MyFWC Flickr account. Parents can post a photo of their young artist holding the drawing to the MyFWC Facebook page in the comments section of the contest post. For those without Facebook accounts, photos can be emailed to SocialMedia@MyFWC.com. Photos must be posted or emailed by May 6 at 11:59 p.m. to be considered for entry.
Shorebirds benefit from increased public awareness in a variety of ways. You can help with shorebird nesting success in the following ways:
- Keep your distance, whether on the beach or paddling watercraft along the shore. If birds become agitated or leave their nests, you are too close. A general rule is to stay at least 300 feet from a nest. Birds calling out loudly and dive-bombing are signals for you to back off.
- Respect posted areas. Avoid posted nesting sites and use designated walkways when possible.
- Avoid CWAs when they are closed to the public. Learn more about CWAs and area closure dates at com/Conservation/Terrestrial/CWA.
- Never intentionally force birds to fly or run. This causes them to use up energy needed for nesting, and eggs and chicks may be left vulnerable to the sun’s heat or predators.
- It is best not to take pets to the beach, but if you take pets to beaches that allow them, keep them leashed and avoid shorebird nesting areas.
- Keep the beach clean and do not feed wildlife. Food scraps attract predators which can prey on shorebird chicks or eggs.
- Spread the word. If you see people disturbing nesting birds, gently let them know how their actions may hurt the birds’ survival. If they continue to disturb nesting birds, report it to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone, or by texting or emailing Tip@MyFWC.com.
Shorebird nesting season is underway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. The snowy plover, least tern, black skimmer, American oystercatcher and Wilson’s plover are several of Florida’s beach-nesting shorebird species that face conservation challenges. Since shorebirds are easily disturbed, some areas identified as being important sites for shorebirds, seabirds and wading birds have been designated as Critical Wildlife Areas. These designations protect our native bird populations during critical times such as breeding, feeding or migration and give the birds an extra buffer of protection by closing areas to public access either throughout the year or specifically during the nesting season.
For more information on shorebirds, go to MyFWC.com/Shorebirds and download the “Share the Beach with Beach-Nesting Birds” brochure. Learn how you can help protect coastal wildlife by visiting the Florida Shorebird Alliance website at FlShorebirdAlliance.org.
In addition to other migratory birds, all shorebird and seabird species found in Florida are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This year marks the centennial of the first Migratory Bird Treaty, which the United States signed with Great Britain on behalf of Canada. Learn more about the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial at fws.gov/birds/mbtreaty100/.