Volunteer Opportunities for Coastal Bird Stewards and Colony Watchers

Shorebird-nesting signs and posts? Check! Steward vests and beach umbrellas? Check!

Audubon bird stewards throughout Florida don their gear and search coastal beaches for species such as  Snowy Plovers, Red Knots, American Oystercatcher and others each season.  Eager anticipation marks time passing in the month of March while volunteers and coastal park managers await the melodious chatter of migratory coastal birds returning from their wintering grounds. It’s a sure sign of spring seabird courtship on Florida’s beaches and one that holds the promise of new life emerging from eggs laid in countless, sandy nest scrapes.


Throughout the Panhandle, Florida’s Gulf Coast, and Northeast Florida’s coasts, bird stewards survey coastal beaches monthly from March through August to locate nests, monitor the chicks’ growth and to help safeguard the nesting birds from errant volleyballs and a host of naive beach visitors. Volunteers install symbolic fencing and signage around each nest and colony to let people know why they should tread lightly around the perimeters and “keep out” for the duration of the nesting cycle.


April and early May will see the kickoff of efforts by many dozens of sand-between-the-toes bird stewards who spend hours of their weekends and holidays stationed at nesting colonies with signs reading “Ask me about the birds!” Audubon joins hands during the season with so many partners – sea turtle aficionados, local, state, and federal government biologists, and public and private land managers – that our coastal bird “family” has grown legendary and is known across the country as a role model for bird stewardship.  Join us this year on the beach so we can share our passion for the birds with you!


In Florida’s Coastal Island Sanctuaries, located in and around Tampa Bay, Colony Watchers keep a watchful eye on important bird colonies making their homes in productive island habitats. Watchers conduct important survey work and educate boaters and recreationists about the nesting birds, making sure each colony has a successful nesting season.


Email flconservation@audubon.org to connect with a bird stewardship or colony watch group near you.


Website copyright Audubon Florida © 2013. Photo rights remain with the photographers.
Photos by Monique Borboen, Harold George, Dave Kandz, Marianne Korosy, Lorraine Margeson, Linda and Carmen Martino, David Macri and Reinier Munguia.