Beach Nesting

Manatee County Audubon Society's Shorebird Surveys and Stewardship Program

The Shorebird Survey and Stewardship Program is used to educate beach visitors about the nesting shorebirds and the importance of not disturbing them. The program is set up for two persons (minimum) per shift each weekend day in three hour shifts running from 8:00AM to 8:00PM. A canopy structure and beach chairs are available to provide shade for the volunteers.

The nesting shorebirds have flown from the nests until 2022. Check back in next spring and summer to see if they return and how you can help!

2021 Nesting Least Tern Colony

In June and July, 2021 126 Least Terns created a nesting colony on Bradenton Breach. This was the first nesting colony on Manatee County Public Beaches in 5 years!

This colony faced many challenges including Tropical Storm Else, 4th of July Disturbances, and Feral Cats. 64 nests produced a total of 30 chicks, and 2 fledged.

Manatee County Audubon Society was able to assist Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch with stewarding this colony on the weekends and teaching the public about this threatened species. A big thank you to all that participated! Hopefully the Least Terns return next year!

Photo Credit: Kathy Doddridge of Least Tern with Two Chicks

Species in Trouble

Many of Florida’s beach-nesting shorebirds and seabirds have experienced declines as a result of habitat loss and excessive disturbance at nests and colonies. In response, here are easy ways you can help our effort.


  • Please respect posted areas for beach-nesting birds and set an example for beachgoers around you.

  • Many nests are not posted. Please pay careful attention where you step in order to avoid stepping on a nest. Agitated adults are an indication a nest may be near.

  • Keep dogs leashed. An unleashed dog can destroy a colony in minutes.


  • Avoid walking in or near the wrack line or areas with dense seaweed and debris since these areas are frequently used by chicks as foraging habitat and shelter.

  • Chicks are very mobile soon after hatching and can be found well outside posted areas. As with nests, agitated adults may signify a chick is nearby, proceed carefully.

  • If you find a chick without an adult nearby, do not assume it has been abandoned and try to pick it up.

Manatee County's active shorebird nesting sites. Please note many sites have been under-reported due to COVID-19 limitations. Source: Florida Shorebird Database (