10 Fluffy Reasons to Share the Beach

Thoughtful Actions Can Help Shorebirds

Photo : Sarah Fensmore/USFWS

When we want a getaway with family and friends, we often seek out a place near the water. And because we’re having a great time, it’s easy to overlook the amazing company we have, shorebirds. These birds often travel as far (or way way farther) than we do to enjoy what the beach has to offer. In many cases, this means a place to gather food or raise young. We’ve posted a number of cute shorebird chicks that rely on the beach or shore as a reminder that there’s enough beach for all of us.

1. Great Black-backed Gull Chick

Photo: Amanda Boyd / USFWS

Don’t let the size of this chick fool you, great black-backed gulls are the largest gulls in the world!

2. Killdeer Chick

Photo: Krista Lundgren / USFWS

Killdeer are shorebirds known for making their nests in plain sight and are often seen on beaches. The adults will feign a “broken wing” to distract and lead potential predators away from the nest. Young killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) are precocial — which means they can run and feed themselves from birth. They are also feathered when they hatch, unlike many birds that hatch in nests in trees.

3. Piping Plover Chick

Photo: Victoria Lima / USFWS

Working to help see more piping plovers on the beach means we need to ensure more habitat for them.

4. Spotted Sandpiper Chick

Photo: Brette Soucie / USFWS

This chick is strutting on Petit Manan Island, Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, where seabird researchers monitor the breeding success of island birds.

4. Western Snowy Plover Chicks

Photo: B. Casler / USFWS

The western snowy plover is a small shorebird that is listed as threatened by the Endangered Species Act. For the first time in nearly 70 years, western snowy plovers are nesting on Los Angeles County beaches.

5. Albatross Chick

Photo: Noah Kahn/USFWS

While you’re unlikely to run across this chick on most beaches, they can can serve as a fantastic reminder to clean up your trash and plastic — especially while you’re on the beach (but really all the time!).

6. Tern Chick

Photo: James Weliver / USFWS

Sometimes you have to make a peep to get your parent’s attention.

7. American Avocet

Photo: Kristin Terwilliger / USFWS

American Avocet parents walking on the shore to the waters edge with a baby Avocet.

8. Elegant Tern Chicks (and Parents)

Photo: Brian Collins / USFWS

These elegant terns at the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge gather together for safety in numbers.

9. Least Tern Chick

Photo: Brian Rudinsky / USFWS

The least tern is the smallest of the terns. This one seems to be blending in nicely with its surroundings.

10. Bristle-thighed Curlew Chicks

Photo: Kristine Sowl / USFWS

The bristle-thighed curlew lives in Hawaii and feeds off fish and crustaceans.

How You Can Help Shorebirds

There are things all beachgoers can do to minimize their impact on breeding shorebirds:

  • Have a carry-in carry-out policy: Trash left on beaches can attract nest predators.
  • Don’t feed gulls: While it may be fun and seems harmless, gulls can eat shorebird eggs and chicks.
  • Walk your dog on a leash: Dogs love to chase and catch wildlife, including shorebirds, and just the stress of being chased, especially repeatedly, can lead to eggs and chicks being abandoned.
  • Respect wildlife protection signs: Please keep out of posted nesting areas.
  • Be aware of wildlife: If birds are calling loudly around you, dive-bombing you, or feigning injury, there are probably nests nearby. Please back away.

Perhaps the most important thing anyone can do is to recognize that shorebirds live and breed on the same beaches that people enjoy.

Photo: Black Turnstone Chick by Kristine Sowl /USFWS

Reminder: Resist the urge to pick up chicks at the beach

Please leave that to the trained professionals.

Whether you plan to lounge with your beach read, swim, or make sand castles — please remember that you are sharing the beach with these incredible shorebirds.