Each year, the North Carolina coast attracts thousands of beachgoers enjoying the sand and surf, but it also attracts thousands of birds that depend on those same beaches at the very same time; birds nesting and protecting their young. Predators, severe weather, disturbance from people’s movements and vehicles, and man-made developments are threatening the survival of these coastal birds by interfering with their ability to nest on our beaches.
Every summer, Audubon North Carolina recruits volunteers to educate beachgoers about beach-nesting birds on the south end of Wrightsville Beach. These beach bird stewards show visitors newborn chicks in spotting scopes, and explain how even brief disturbances cause parent birds to flush, exposing eggs and young to heat stress and predators. The stewards take this responsibility seriously while also having fun fostering an excitement and appreciation for bird conservation among local residents and visitors.
Beach Stewards have donated countless hours as ambassadors, spreading their knowledge and love of birds to beachgoers, and educating them on beach bird habits, habitats and how to help protect the many species that make our beaches their summer home. Equipped with their binoculars and spotting scopes, stewards show thousands of visitors how eggs are camoflaged directly on nests scraped into the sand, and how important it is to observe the symbolic fencing that protects these bird nurseries.
Some of the birds monitored by beach stewards are classified as a priority species including the Black Skimmer, Least Tern and American Oystercatcher. Conservation efforts such as the Beach Bird Steward program are vital to the future success of these coastal birds.
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