Walk With the Birds

by Pat Bradford
July 2019

Audubon Volunteers Spot the Way to Nesting Birds and Chicks

On Mondays until mid-August, Audubon N.C.'s Wrightsville Beach bird stewards will continue to lead a walk to view Wrightsville's nesting colony of black skimmers, common terns, least terns and American oystercatchers on the island's south end.

"It's a unique and wonderful way for a morning walk on the beach," says Marlene Eader,volunteer coordinator for Audubon N.C.

Wrightsville has the state's largest nesting colony of black skimmers this year.

Completing a census in early June, Audubon stewards counted 184 nests; each nest has two parents and then the chicks.

"You can see them," Eader says. "We have oyster catcher chicks, least tern chicks. Common terns are hatching. These come in from as far away as Brazil. The black skimmers come in from the northern part of South America."

Stewards have spotting scopes and visual aids to share the challenges beach nesting birds face when incubating eggs and raising their chicks on the hot sand on the busy strand.

"These birds come in only to nest," Eader says. "They will make the trip back in August."

In the meantime, the parents teach the chick to fly and to fish.

"The parents model behavior -- black skimmer chicks are learning how to skim. The chicks will be out there practicing. The tern chicks are learning how to hover over the water, watching the fish," Eader says.

The weekly walk begins at 9 a.m. from the gazebo at public beach access #43 on Wrightsville's south end. The walk is free but parking is quite limited and requires a fee.


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