Historic City News has been asked to alert residents and visitors who drive on St. Johns County beaches that this summer local, state and federal authorities are staking off areas of the beach to prevent human disturbance of returning beach nesting birds.
A number of birds use these areas for nesting, including the Least Tern and Wilson’s Plover.
Least Terns nest in colonies primarily in areas where beach driving is allowed because they are seeking non-vegetated sand for nesting. Adult Least Terns will make a shallow scrape in the bare sand to deposit their eggs. It then takes about 21 days for the eggs to hatch and three weeks before the chicks are ready to fly.
Wilson’s Plovers nest in the vegetated areas in a similar fashion. However, adults must bring their chicks to the water’s edge to teach them how to fish. When frightened, the adults will fly off the nest, leaving the sand-colored eggs exposed in the sun to roast or fall prey to larger birds.
Signs will be posted through August that forbid access to marked areas from vehicles, humans and dogs. All migratory birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Least Tern is also currently listed as a threatened species under Florida State Law.
Any questions about the bird nesting areas may be directed to Habitat Conservation Coordinator Tara Dodson at (904) 209-3740.