Do Not Disturb!
Shore birds are beginning their fall migration early this year. Cold weather in the arctic is forcing the birds to follow summer to South America ahead of schedule, with more shore birds showing up during August in fields and mudflats throughout the midwest as well as coastal areas.
Few shore birds migrate during the day with most taking off at sunset in noisy flocks. Interestingly, birds that failed to breed leave about a week prior to the rest. Adult breeder females then leave about a week before the adult breeder males, who in turn leave a week before the juveniles who finally take off a month after the first birds began migrating.
This allows the younger birds time to mature and store fat for a trek they make based solely on instinct. Without adult guidance, many young birds end up far from their intended winter destination. True to their nature, the young birds will imprint on the new location and return year after year to their very own wintering ground. By habituating to new migration routes and wintering regions, species are able to adapt and survive when normal food sources dry up or regular habitats disintegrate.
Summer beach goers are being asked by Audubon to help and protect shore birds during this critical time:
Walk around birds. Like people, shore birds need to feed and rest in peace. Avoid flushing birds when you walk, bike or drive on beaches. Every time they fly up, birds expend precious energy and burn fat reserves they need to migrate.
Keep dogs away from birds. Birds see dogs as predators and are disturbed by their presence, even if nearby humans don't seem to bother them.
Do Not Disturb. No kite flying or kite surfing. To birds, kites are gigantic aerial predators, so keep your distance from birds when you fly kites or engage in kite surfing and similar activities.
Do Not Feed. Feeding seabirds is not recommended. Feeding wild birds near fishing areas can expose them to the dangers of hooks, lures and lines. Additionally, feeding birds on the beach causes them to become nuisance animals.