Share The Shore With Wildlife

provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

The holiday season is in full swing, which means an influx of human activity to the shores of Florida. During this time, it is extremely important to stay mindful of your impact on the environment and the animals around you.

Many birds are abundant on the shores of Florida, especially on the islands of Captiva and Sanibel. Migratory birds will fly south for the winter, and plenty of species spend their winter months on the shores. This includes plovers, sandpipers, and white pelicans; other birds take up residency in Florida year-round, and can include ring necked gulls, laughing gulls, brown pelicans, sandwich terns, common terns, royal terns, double crested cormorants, and more.

Although it may seem entertaining or a great photo opportunity to run through flocks of birds, this is extremely disrupting to the birds and stressful; they perceive humans as a threat, and as a result, they must expend extra energy to evade you, the “predator”. This can cause them to become exhausted and can lead to emaciation or dehydration when they must then use more energy to search for food and fresh water. In addition, the same issue occurs with pets on the beach. Dogs off leashes can cause flocks of birds to be startled and flee onto different areas of the beach or into the water; this can lead to the same unnecessary energy expenditure. Birds can also be startled and separated from their young, which can inhibit the parents from bringing food back to their offspring, causing malnourishment.

Taking a vacation can also mean participating in popular beach hobbies, such as picnics and fishing. It is important to be wary of fishlines, especially close to piers where seabirds (especially pelicans) can either ingest fishhooks or fish lines; additionally, catching and releasing a fish with a hook lodged into it can cause beak and pouch injuries to seabirds, as well as accidental ingestion. Families should use environmentally conscious fishing practices to prevent littering and should refer to CROWS ‘Mind Your Line’ campaign to prevent seabird injuries.

It is also important to not feed any sea or shorebirds and pick up any trash and litter on the beach, as they can be accidentally ingested. Continuously feeding sea and shorebirds can cause accidental habituation; this can lead these animals to becoming more comfortable around humans, which can hinder hunting efforts and can endanger animal welfare.

If you do see a shorebird with a noticeable injury, such as a hook injury or broken wing or walking problem, or additionally, see the bird expressing clear symptoms of red tide (‘drunk’ walks, unable to fly, able to be approached without evading) call CROW.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (12/19-12/23):
There were 22 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including a black-bellied whistling duck,a ring-billed gull, a brown pelican, a white pelican, a red-shouldered hawk, multiple easter cottontails and eastern gray squirrels, and a northern raccoon. Recent releases include a Florida softshell turtle, 4 double-crested cormorants, and two brown pelicans. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases.

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond. Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.