News Releases

Little Estero, nearby beaches posted to protect nesting shorebirds

News Release

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-648-3200

Every year, imperiled shorebirds nest on Florida beaches from about April 1, through Aug. 31. Little Estero Critical Wildlife Area (CWA) and other nearby nesting sites on Fort Myers Beach are posted during this critical period to help protect the nests of these highly vulnerable and increasingly rare species.

On March 25, staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the city of Fort Myers Beach, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Lee County, and local volunteers installed temporary fencing and signs around nesting sites on the CWA, and on private property - with the permission and cooperation of landowners. Fencing and signs help ensure that people and shorebirds have an opportunity to share the beach without serious conflict.

Shorebirds such as least terns and snowy plovers lay their well-camouflaged eggs directly on the sand, making them nearly invisible to predators and to the untrained human eye. Any disturbance by people, pets or vehicles - accidental or otherwise - can cause these birds to abandon their nests, resulting in unhatched eggs and the death of young chicks.  

"Beachgoers can do their part by staying out of the posted areas and leaving their dogs at home. Dogs are prohibited within the CWA, even in areas open to pedestrians," said Nancy Douglass, an FWC nongame wildlife biologist.

Nesting areas are closed off by "symbolic fencing," which consists of signs connected by twine, marked with flagging tape.  Closed beach areas may shift during the nesting season, depending on where the birds have chosen to lay eggs at any given time. 

"We want to thank, in particular, those private property owners who have so graciously supported efforts to post their beachfront property to help protect these at-risk birds while they nest," Douglass said.

Because many of Florida's shorebird species are listed as threatened or endangered, it is a violation of state and federal laws to harass or take any endangered or threatened birds, their eggs or young.

If you would like more information about living with beach-nesting shorebirds, go to, and download the "Co-existing with Florida's beach-nesting birds" brochure.

FWC Facts:
Scientists can determine the age of a fish by counting growth rings, similar to growth rings of a tree, on otoliths, the “inner ear bones” of fish.

Learn More at AskFWC