SARASOTA, Fla. — Right now is nesting season for protected seabirds and Audubon Florida says the upcoming Fourth of July holiday is the most dangerous weekend for them.
Many protected birds including black skimmers are nesting in colonies on beaches throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Lido Beach has the biggest black skimmer colony in the state with more than 800 birds that nest with their chicks right on top of the sand.
Audubon Florida is warning people to not let fireworks off on the beach.
They say not only is it illegal but it scares the adult birds away, putting their chicks in danger.
"As much as we love to come to the beach and enjoy it and celebrate Independence Day, this is a huge time of year for these birds because they depend on the beach to raise their chicks. So right now, if a firework were to be set off near the colony, it could cause a massive disturbance getting chicks separated from their parents and that could be detrimental causing death of the chicks," said Kylie Wilson with Audubon Florida.
Audubon says the best things people can do to help protect the birds are:
- Give the birds about 100 feet of space
- Walk around the colonies
- Never attempt to feed the birds
- Avoid bringing dogs or fireworks anywhere near a colony
- Know that harassing protected birds is illegal