Shorebird nesting season officially began at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve last week week with the closure of Second Chance Sandbar, a Critical Wildlife Area just off Cape Romano in the southern section of the Reserve. Boat landings, people, dogs and fishing are strictly prohibited from March 1 – August 31.
Rookery Bay staff and volunteers worked together with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Audubon Florida to place closure signs all along this small stretch of island beach. Second Chance plays an important role in the successful breeding of endangered birds including least terns, black skimmers and Wilson’s plovers. It’s remote location and CWA designation truly offers birds that nest in the sand and shells a “second chance” to mate and raise their vulnerable chicks on a remote beach, free from predators and disturbance.
When staff placed signage this week, a few Wilson’s plovers had already paired off and were engaging in nesting activity. Nesting areas will be monitored throughout the nesting season. Once the signs are removed on Aug. 31, or after the birds have left, boating visitors may return.
Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve stretches across 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters. We are committed to preservation through research, education, and land protection.