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Beach-nesting Bird Stewardship at Matagorda Beach

posted May 31, 2016, 11:56 AM by   [ updated May 31, 2016, 2:32 PM ]

On Memorial Day weekend, like many weekends during the summer, beach-nesting birds have to share the beach with holiday-makers, their pets and their vehicles.  The birds' shallow, bare nest cups and small, beige, speckled eggs and chicks that blend into the sand made perfect sense when all the birds had to worry about were animal predators.  Now human disturbance is the biggest threat to the safety of these endangered birds.  Their nests, eggs and chicks are very hard to see on the beach, and foot, car and pet traffic breaks eggs and kills chicks throughout the spring and summer nesting and chick-rearing season. 

Can you find the nest in the first photo?  The second photo is a close-up.

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, a Gulf Coast Master Naturalist associate organization, has teamed up with American Bird Conservancy, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program and Houston Audubon to increase protection and public awareness of beach-nesting bird populations. This project focuses on Black Skimmers and Wilson’s Plovers, but many other colonially-nesting waterbirds benefit from the conservation measures being taken. Outreach actions, funded in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, include posting educational signage at nesting sites, nesting surveys and bird banding. GCBO’s research actions include monitoring the Black Skimmer colony at the Dow Chemical Company in Freeport, one of the largest skimmer colonies on the Texas coast and monitoring breeding Wilson’s Plovers in Brazoria and Matagorda Counties. 


This weekend Chapter member Mary Waters joined researcher Amanda Anderson at Matagorda Beach, where they installed additional signage, trapped and banded Wilson’s Plovers, surveyed and identified nests and educated beach-goers about the dangers of causing disturbances around the birds’ fragile nesting sites.  If you are going to the beach this summer, be vigilant and respect signs and roped-off areas that may denote nesting sites.


Please contact the GCBO if you’d like to help with their work in beach nesting bird stewardship along the Texas Gulf Coast.