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Future of Shorebird nests may be in jeopardy on Pensacola Beach

The future of shorebirds that are nesting in an area on Pensacola Beach could be in jeopardy.
Audubon Florida officials who focus on the conservation of birds say they're trying to protect 40 nests from beach-goers who have been walking through a roped off- nesting area.

One 'bird steward' and the Santa Rosa Island Authority are now working closely to protect the birds.
Two threatened species of birds are nesting here near the Land Shark Landing bar and grill on Pensacola Beach.

"Least terns and black skimmers are in this colony" says Bonnie Samuelsen with Audubon Florida.
But recently these birds haven't been able to nest in peace. "We have had people who have observed people going through the nesting area" says Samuelsen.

Samuelsen's job is to keep an eye on the more than 40 nests at this location.
She says people have been cutting through the protected area during the Bands on the Beach events. "We live in a very unique environment out here" says Robbie Schrock with the Santa Rosa Island Authority.

It's  why the Santa Rosa Island Authority sent some of their people to watch over the nesting area during Tuesday night's Bands on the Beach concert. "We just wanted to make sure that no one in fact was walking through that and if so let them know there is yellow tape around there for a reason" says Schrock.

The SRIA says nobody was seen walking anywhere near the roped off area Tuesday evening. And they are planning on having man power guard the nesting area again next week. Disrupting the birds in this protected area can have major repercussions.

"The adult bird will put itself between the perceived predator and its chicks or eggs and then it is at that time, the real predators like a laughing gulls, crows and ghost crabs may swoop in and eat the eggs and chicks" says  Samuelsen. But now through a community effort, these threatened birds may have a chance to thrive.

Many of the eggs are expected to hatch within the next week. Then in about 4 weeks the chicks will be able to fly away.