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Pinellas County Parks prepares black skimmer nesting area at Sand Key Park

Pinellas County Parks & Conservation Resources, in partnership with Audubon Florida, have pre-posted a nesting area for black skimmers at the north end of Sand Key Park’s beach near the jetty. Pre-posting means an area has been marked and protected before the shorebirds begin nesting.

Beachgoers and fishermen will notice this large area is protected with signs and ropes to create an undisturbed area for breeding black skimmers, which are a threatened species of medium-sized birds in Florida with a long bill that is used to “skim” the water in search of fish. Wooden decoys are being used to attract skimmers to this protected area.

Skimmers breed in large colonies and will lay between 3 to 5 eggs. Skimmer chicks hatch covered in soft, downy feathers and rely on their parents for food and protection. Predators include crows, gulls and coyotes. These chicks will grow quickly over a few weeks and can start flying around four weeks.

You can protect black skimmers by keeping this area undisturbed and following these easy steps:

  • Do not enter the posted area - Keep this area safe for skimmers!
  • Leave pets off the beach - Many pets, particularly dogs, resemble predators to skimmers and can cause nest and chick abandonment.
  • Walk around flocks of birds. - Resting birds are conserving energy to survive and raise their young.
  • Take trash with you - Trash can attract certain predators, such as crows, to the beach.
  • Report disturbances - Rangers and the Florida Wildlife Commission can assist when birds are being harassed.

If black skimmers nest in this area, it will remain posted until Aug. 31.

To learn more about Pinellas County Parks & Conservation Resources, visit www.pinellascounty.org/park.

Learn more about black skimmers: www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/black-skimmer