In early 2008 Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast was contacted by the owners of a few vacant lots on Siesta Key. The landowners were environmentally conscious and wished to donate the beach property to Conservation Foundation, as part of a larger financial plan. Since that time, Conservation Foundation has managed the property through a partnership with Sarasota Audubon Society, in order to provide nesting habitat for threatened snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus).
While this property is small, it is very significant. Like all beach property, it has the potential to provide much-needed nesting areas for beach-nesting birds, such as the snowy plover. Unfortunately, nesting is precluded from almost all beaches, as shore birds are shy and will abandon nests when people or dogs pass by. Ownership by Conservation Foundation enables us to better manage the beach so that beach nesting birds have a chance to survive.
Snowy plovers are shy creatures when it comes to nesting. A 2010 study on Sanibel and La Costa islands found that birds are flushed from their nests by pedestrians within 13 feet, and leashed dogs within 70 feet. When birds leave their nests, the eggs may cook in the sun or be eaten by crows. Because of this, Sarasota Audubon Society stakes off nesting areas on Siesta Key during the breeding season, February – August. It is very important to respect these buffers, and to keep your dog off the beach during this time.