Beach-nesting birds: Florida's original beach babies

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 13:05 PM.

Did you know that beach-nesting birds such as snowy plovers, black skimmers, American oystercatchers and least terns lay their eggs on top of the sand, and raise their young on our local beaches? Chicks less than six inches tall can be seen feeding along dunes, coastal lakes and the tidal zone.

Want to see it for yourself? Dramatic courtship displays and the sight of adorable chicks taking their first steps await you in an amazing photo presentation on Feb. 27 at the Coastal Branch Library, sponsored by the South Walton Community Council. The show will be presented by Bonnie Samuelsen, project manager for Audubon Florida's Coastal Bird Stewardship Program. This public forum will begin at 7 p.m. at the library, 437 Greenway Trail, near the courthouse annex on Hwy. 331.

For more than 10 years Samuelsen has been involved with local and state efforts to manage the habitat of beach-nesting shorebirds. She began this work in Sarasota in the 1990's when, as a Florida master naturalist, she became concerned about conditions for beach-nesting birds there. After conducting local, state and international surveys for various agencies, including the Florida state parks, she became manager of beach-nesting shorebirds for Sarasota County.

She became one of the early contributors to the Suncoast Shorebird Partnership, which ultimately evolved into Florida Fish and Wildlife's statewide Florida Shorebird Alliance initiative. She also has been a contributing member of the Coastal Wildlife Conservation Initiative and Florida's Snowy Plover Working Group.  She lives in Lynn Haven.

The SWCC is an organization of residents, business owners and property owners whose mission is to advocate for the preservation, protection and enhancement of the quality of life and natural environment of south Walton County.  To contact the SWCC, call 850-314-3749 or visit www.southwaltoncc.org.



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