On April 28, 2017, a least tern nest was discovered on the beach south of Spanish River Park, on the properties of the Yacht and Racquet Club of Boca Raton and the San Remo Condominium. Staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Gumbo Limbo Nature Center posted a perimeter around the nest site for protection.
The City of Boca Raton’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program staff monitor Boca Raton’s beaches for nesting shorebirds, and first observed least terns displaying mating behavior in 2014. This nest is notable as the first least tern nest discovered on a Boca Raton beach in over 25 years. According FWC, this is one of only three nesting colonies on Florida’s east coast.
Least terns are small yellow-billed birds with white “foreheads.” They are a state listed threatened species, therefore protected. Least terns nest in colonies on beaches and on rooftops. Nests are inconspicuous, shallow scrapes in the sand. Nests, eggs, and chicks are extremely difficult to see due to their excellent camouflage.
Adult birds and chicks are very sensitive to disturbance, and adult birds are very defensive around nests. Never enter a posted area, even if you do not see any birds. If you walk by the area and birds fly away, you are too close. If adult birds fly at you, you are too close. Sea Turtle Program staff will not enter the nesting site. Should any sea turtles lay nests in the posted area, they will not be marked in the usual manner.
As part of the annual sea turtle nesting training conducted by FWC, sea turtle monitors statewide are provided training about nesting seabirds and shorebirds. When present, the sea turtle monitors work with FWC biologists to ensure the protection of the birds and their nests. For more information, please visit www.flshorebirdalliance.org.