2016 Sanibel and Captiva Shorebird Nesting Season

A 5 week old plover chick nestled under his dads wing

A 5 week old plover chick nestled under his dads wing

The 2016 shorebird nesting season has come to a close. SCCF’s shorebird biologist and shorebird intern have been monitoring nesting Snowy Plovers, Least Terns, and Wilson’s Plovers since mid-February.  No nesting attempts were made on Captiva this year; all nests were on Sanibel.

The snowy plovers on Sanibel only fledged 4 chicks in 2016.  Of the 28 nesting attempts this year, only 7 nests made it to hatching, producing a total of 17 chicks. The primary causes of nest and chick loss were due to depredation (primarily crows and gulls) and washover events (primarily Tropical Storm Colin).

Wilson’s Plovers fared much better with 4 chicks successfully fledging in 2016. Of the 3 nest attempts, 2 nests hatched a total of 5 chicks. One nest was washed over during Tropical Storm Colin.

The Least Terns did not succeed at producing any fledglings on Sanibel this year.  They formed a nesting colony west of Bowman’s beach in mid-May.  A canine predator depredated the majority of the 23 nests in late-May, leaving only 6 nests remaining. At least 2 of those nests hatched and 3 chicks were observed in the colony prior to Tropical Storm Colin. All remaining nests and chicks were lost during the storm. The terns did not return to Sanibel to nest in 2016, but likely formed a new colony elsewhere. Many fledglings were observed on the island during July and August.