Start of Snowy Plover Season Kicks Off with Tagging Project

20 Mar 2017

Snowy plovers are small beach-nesting shorebirds that we share our beautiful beach with here on Sanibel. February 15th marks the official start to snowy plover nesting season in the state of Florida. Over the next few weeks, adult plovers will form mating pairs and begin to establish territories across Sanibel. SCCF recently teamed up with staff from the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and a few volunteers to rope off a known nesting area adjacent to the Perry Tract on the east end of Sanibel. This small stretch of beach is located just to the east of Gulfside City Park.  For the last several months, a group of plovers ranging from 6- 12 individuals have been utilizing this area for roosting and foraging.

This year SCCF will continue its long tradition of monitoring the nesting of snowy plovers, along with 2 other beach-nesting species: Wilson’s plovers and least terns.  The shorebird biologist and shorebird intern will regularly be on the beaches monitoring plover activity and constructing protective boundaries around nests. Additionally, there will be presentations about our nesting shorebirds given bi-weekly at the SCCF visitor center throughout nesting season. The next presentation will be Thursday, February 23rdat 2:00 pm in the SCCF auditorium.

As a means to better track the movements and nesting success of our snowy plovers, SCCF’s shorebird biologist has initiated a banding project. To identify birds as individuals, adult plovers are captured and given a federally issued metal band and unique combination of color bands on their lower legs. Currently on Sanibel there are 6 uniquely banded individuals, one of whom was banded as part of a past research project in 2009. If you happen to see a banded snowy plover on the beach, please take a photo or make note of the colors on the legs, and the location of the bird. You can report any sightings of our banded birds, or send any further inquiries about our research to the shorebird biologist at shorebirds@sccf.org .