Audubon Florida News

Topic: FL Coastal Islands Sanctuaries,Wildlife

Abandoned Fishing Gear: Wildlife Killer

posted on March 1, 2012 in FL Coastal Islands Sanctuaries,Wildlife

Like to spend time on Florida’s magnificent waterways and coasts? Take a moment to download this informative fact sheet regarding what happens to our amazing wildlife and incredible ecosystems when careless individuals discard their leftover fishing gear inappropriately. Please share – you can make a difference! 

Learn more about Audubon’s Florida Coastal Island Sanctuaries and how you can help by clicking here.

Sarasota Bay Monofilament Clean-Up A Huge Success

posted on October 18, 2011 in FL Coastal Islands Sanctuaries

On October 1, Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries staff and volunteers from Sarasota Audubon, Manatee County Audubon, Sarasota Bay Watch, and Sarasota Bay Estuary Program visited bird nesting and habitat islands to remove discarded fishing line, hooks, tackle, and other ensnaring materials that are littered all over these special places on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Although no one person felt that they had found a lot of fishing line, at the end of the morning an amazing amount of line and other materials had been removed from the bird habitats of Sarasota Bay.  Audubon islands visited included Cortez Key, Whale Key, and Bowlees Creek Island Bird Sanctuaries. Other sites included City Island, shorelines of Longboat Key, and the John Ringling Causeway and bridge abutments.

The Fishing Line Cleanup is organized in October because few birds are nesting on colony islands in the fall.  The Sarasota Sailing Squadron hosted the event, which was coordinated with Sarasota Bay Watch for the third year in a row. The clean up was also sponsored by Save Our Seabirds and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Thank you to everyone who came out and helped make a difference for Florida’s incredible coastal wildlife! See you next year!

American Oystercatchers in Tampa Bay

posted on August 31, 2011 in Birding,FL Coastal Islands Sanctuaries,Wildlife

Audubon Warden Carol Cassels captured this photo of an American Oystercatcher chick learning its trade under the watchful eye of its doting parent. Tampa Bay is one of the most important regions of the state for breeding and wintering of these declining birds. Audubon manages spoil islands in Hillsborough Bay as refuges for these and other shorebirds and seabirds. Thanks to Warden Cassels in the great tradition of Audubon wardens, for her role in helping this chick get a good start in life!

Florida’s Special Places: Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary

Audubon of Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuary staff member Mark Rachal sends us his nomination for Florida’s Special Places: the Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary. Mark recently was the guide and narrator on a cruise of over 130 Audubon of Florida supporters through this truly amazing coastal habitat. Did you attend this cruise or have you visited this bird sanctuary before? Post YOUR nomination on our Facebook Page and connect with others who love Florida as much as you! Enjoy:

Last night, Audubon of Florida and Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries staff and many of the program’s devoted supporters were treated to a sunset cruise around the Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary in Hillsborough Bay. Departing from the dock in Tampa, the participants made their way south aboard The Florida Aquarium’s tour boat, the Bay Spirit II.

We were treated to a pod of dolphins that played near the boat as Audubon of Florida’s Executive Director, Eric Draper, greeted the cruise passengers.

The birds of Florida’s most important colonial wading bird colony did not disappoint. Many young Roseate Spoonbills, White and Glossy Ibis and Brown Pelicans covered the sandbar as the adult birds streamed in from every direction to feed the eager chicks. A family of American Oystercatchers patrolled the shoreline with the chick in tow scrambling to snatch every bit a food that the adults picked up. Nearly fledged small herons, including Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, and Snowy and Cattle Egrets perched in the mangroves calling and flapping wildly.

An unexpected surprise included about 25 American White Pelicans resting along the southern shoreline. Least Terns hovered near the second deck, allowing all on board great views, before plunging into the water and carrying their catch off to waiting broods. Though the sun made a premature exit behind a wall of clouds, everyone enjoyed their time with Audubon on the Bay Spirit II.

After a perfect evening on the coast with the birds of Florida’s most important colonial wading bird colony, it’s easy to see how amazing our state can be. I am thrilled to nominate the Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary as one of Florida’s Special Places.

Audubon’s Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary Gets Major Upgrade

posted on May 11, 2011 in FL Coastal Islands Sanctuaries

The Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary has been protected by Audubon of Florida for over 70 years. Earlier this month, it received a major upgrade: the installation of a 425 foot man-made reef system to protect Bird Island, one of the islands that make up the sanctuary.

The reef will help guard against erosion as well as providing a habitat for planktonic oysters.

The islands that make up the Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary are home to over 10,000 pairs of nesting birds and is one of the most diverse in the United States. Although, the sanctuary’s most abundant bird is the White Ibis.

Audubon’s Florida Coastal Island Sanctuaries’ next project is to implement a stronger wave-catcher system for Sunken Island, the sanctuary’s larger island. They hope to begin the planning phase this summer.

You can learn more about this great project by visiting our website or by reading this article by Stay tuned to this blog for updates as we make progress!

Congratulations to Florida Coastal Island Sanctuaries for the completion of this important project and thank you to all our supporters who helped make this a reality!

Oil Spill Alert: Help Protect Florida’s Beaches and Fragile Shorebirds

NOAA Cumulative Oil Trajectory Map

Step Lightly on Florida Beaches

Well-motivated but not well informed volunteers sent out to clean debris from beaches may be disturbing nesting and other shorebirds.  Volunteers eager to move beach litter above the high water line to make it easier to clean up oil that may come ashore are putting beach and marsh nesting birds at risk.

Some people are moving beach debris such as driftwood from the beach onto high-water areas.  This is harmful as beach wildlife use naturally occurring beach debris near the water line and may be harmed when debris is piled in upland areas on or near their well camouflaged nests.  Traffic in dune areas can also harm vegetation.

Safe Tips for Cleaning Litter off Beaches:

For those who want to clean litter from the beaches in anticipation of oil coming ashore, Audubon recommends the following:

  • Use approved access points and avoid walking or hiking through marshes or seagrass beds.
  • Stay below the tidal line.
  • Leave natural debris in place because it provides nesting benefits to shorebirds and other wildlife.
  • Only remove man-made litter.
  • Do not place litter in the dunes or above the high water line.
  • Don’t use equipment such as rakes, shovels or tractors.
  • Do not bring ATVs or other motorized vehicles onto the beach.
  • Do not bring dogs onto the beach (dogs are a primary sources of beach bird disturbance and mortality.)
  • Respect posted areas and leave signs, posts and twine in place to protect beach nesting bird colonies.

You can take action in many ways:

1. Volunteer to rescue injured birds and to clean oil off Florida’s beaches and other coastal areas.
2. Sign the petition opposing state and federal plans to expand oil drilling in Florida’s water.
3. Contribute to our special fund to rescue birds injured by the oil spill and underwrite advocacy so this never happens again.
4. Recruit your friends and family to join Audubon’s response efforts.

Red Knot courtesy of Rod Wiley

Send us your photos and video of local habitats and wildlife

Audubon of Florida is urging everyone to step lightly on our beaches and follow safety tips if you are engaged in beach clean up activities.

You can also help by taking pictures and videos of the habitats and wildlife in your local communities. This local knowledge could become very useful as the oil spill evolves.
Follow these guidelines when documenting your coastal areas and wildlife and to send images to Audubon of Florida:

When photographing or filming

  • Follow all Audubon safe tips for beach cleaning.
  • Keep your distance from nesting grounds, marked areas, and resting birds. Do not flush birds.
  • Use long range zooms to capture close up images.

Send your images, video or a notification of their availability to

  • Identify the time, day, date and location that the image was taken, and use GPS coordinates if possible.
  • Identify and clearly spell the name of the photographer/videographer and provide contact information, email, telephone and address.
  • Clearly state whether Audubon may have the rights to reprint, publish in print and electronic vehicles, and share your images, providing proper credit.
  • For large photo or video files, notify us at that images are available and we will contact you with instructions for uploading them.

Note that Florida Audubon does not have a budget to pay for images but provides photo credit to the photographer/videographer.

Additional Resources

Click Here for Florida updates from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Click Here for the most updated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maps on the oil spill’s trajectory.

Click Here to visit the Deepwater Horizon central command.

Climate Peril to Birds Demands Action in Florida

ROYT chick  Linda
This Royal Tern chick was photographed by Linda Martino at Huguenot Memorial Park in Jacksonville in summer 2009. Audubon is working in Northeast Florida to protect these birds and others from human disturbance and to conserve their important beach habitat. Notice where the chick is standing: Young Royal Terns do not thermo-regulate well and so being able to sit undisturbed at the water’s edge helps them keep cool.

Statement of Audubon of Florida on the 2010 State of the Birds Report

The 2010 State of the Birds Report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Audubon and other leading conservation organizations shows that climate change will have an increasing impact on birds and their habitat—and the ecological and other benefits they provide to people. It issues an urgent call for sound energy policy that will reduce carbon emissions, and for strategic conservation investments that will help species adapt to a changing climate. If we can help the birds weather this unprecedented threat, we can help ourselves.

In Florida, some of the most threatened birds include coastal species, such as the red knot and royal tern. The Florida scrub-jay, our state’s only endemic species, as well as the ruby-throated hummingbird, prothonotary warbler and roseate spoonbill, are all at risk from climate-induced habitat changes.

“The report makes it clear that these birds will not survive the human-caused changes to our global climate,” said Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon of Florida. “Like canaries in a coal mine, the dangers they face warn of dangers to us as well. It’s up to us to reduce the threat.”

Everglades restoration that achieves ecological benefits, protection of our important beaches and coastal habitats, and putting meaningful renewable energy and energy and water conservation policies into place are all winning strategies that Audubon of Florida is working hard to achieve.

What Florida Audubon is doing complements innovative federal efforts to help species adapt; efforts that come with new investments that will create jobs and protect beautiful and sensitive habitats across America. And we’re part of ongoing Audubon efforts to pass ground-breaking climate and energy legislation to control the emissions that cause climate change while there’s still time to make a difference.”

As Glenn Olson of the National Audubon Society said at the news conference announcing the findings, “If you love nature and care about the health of our planet, there is no time to lose. This isn’t just about birds; it’s about our chance to shape our future.”

Legislative Session 2010: Stay Informed with the Advocate


Legislative Session 2010 is upon us. One of the best ways to stay informed during these next few, fast-paced months is with the Advocate and the Florida Conservation Network. Subscribing to the Advocate is free and it gives you the timely information to help make a difference on behalf of Florida’s economy and environment. Know what is going on and how you can personally make a difference.

Check out the latest Advocate released last week. Subscribe to the Advocate and receive it automatically. What you will find in last week’s Advocate:

  •  Florida Springs Day Takes Over Capitol
  •  Florida Forever and Everglades Funding
  •  Water Quality Legislation
  •  Jobs For Florida–What’s Really at Stake?
  •  House Continues to Consider Nearshore Drilling
  •  Unfinished Business with Renewable Energy
  •  Bills That Address the Python Issue

Colonial Waterbirds of Sarasota Bay Lecture at Mote Marine Laboratory

spoonbill_bill_swindamanAnn B. Hodgson, Ph.D., Sanctuary Manager of Audubon of Florida’s Coastal Islands Sanctuaries, will present a talk on the Colonial Waterbirds of Sarasota Bay, with concentration on the Roberts Bay Bird Colony Islands. Included are some of Florida’s most well-loved, rarest, and charismatic species, as Brown Pelican, the herons and egrets, Roseate Spoonbill, terns and skimmers, and American Oystercatcher. Dr. Hodgson will outline the biology of the species, their populations and conservation status, and reproductive behavior. Many of these species nest on islands in groups called colonies, and Dr. Hodgson will include information about the protection of these special sites.

When: Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 3-4:30 p.m.

Where: Mote Marine Laboratory, Ann and Alfred E. Goldstein Marine Mammal Research and Rehabilitation Center, 1703 Ken Thompson Parkway, Longboat Key, Sarasota FL 34236, Jean P. Hendry Conference Room, 2nd Floor

Parking: Attendees should park across the street and enter the main entrance. Use the stairs or elevators to the second floor, and walk past the dolphin lagoon to the conference room.

Who: This talk is open to the interested public.

More information at the Southeast American Littoral Society.

The Winter Version of the Naturalist


Check out the latest version of the Naturalist, the Winter 2009-10 edition. In it, you will find articles on the upcoming 2010 Legislative session, a summarization of Audubon’s Assembly, Audubon’s 2010 regional conservation priorities, an article on the highlighted importance of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, recent updates, and more. Sign up for the Naturalist today by becoming a member of Audubon. Also, view the Naturalist archive.

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