The Collier County Shorebird Partnership is a coalition of organizations that are involved with the protection and monitoring of beach-nesting shorebirds. The bird steward program is the volunteer-based public outreach branch of the partnership, dedicated to providing beach-goers with information about how they can help nesting shorebirds have a successful season here in Collier County. Both the patrnership and the steward program were founded in 2010.
Every year from March through August, Wilson’s Plovers, Snowy Plovers, Least Terns, and Black Skimmers nest on beaches in southern Collier County. Not all beach-goers are familiar with nesting birds, and many may not even be aware of them. This can result in disturbance to the colonies, which decreases the birds’ chances of nesting success. In other locations around the state and country, volunteers help out by spending time at colonies, often with informational pamphlets and a scope. They show visitors the birds, explain how they can help, and answer questions. Through the Collier County Shorebird Partnership, local organizations started a bird steward program for our beach-nesting birds.
To provide information about beach-nesting birds and viewing opportunities to members of the beach-going public at or near nesting sites.
- Inform the beach-going public about the presence of nesting shorebirds and of the steps they can take to minimize impacts.
- Educate interested members of the beach-going public about the biology and life history of nesting shorebirds.
- When the birds present the opportunity, to show members of the beach-going public the birds’ natural behavior at nesting sites, using optics when possible.
Beach-nesting takes place in southern Collier County, including on the south end of Key/Keewaydin Island, . The Big Marco Pass Critical Wildlife Area (CWA) on Sand Dollar Island on Marco Island is posted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The FWC also cooperates with other organizations to post other bird nesting areas, such as colonies that form on the Marco Beach and on islands within Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Currently, stewarding activities take place on Marco Island at Tigertail Lagoon and the Big Marco Pass CWA.
The The Florida Shorebird Alliance provides resources to help coordinate shorebird protection and monitoring efforts throughout Florida. It operates through local partnerships, including the Collier County Shorebird Partnership.
The partners that make up the Collier County Shorebird Partnership include the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the City of Marco Island, Collier Audubon, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Friends of Tigertail, and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.