WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A new effort to protect birds and their chicks has the population soaring along the south end of Wrightsville Beach.
Audubon North Carolina partnered with Wrightsville Beach Police to close off a larger area of the beach for a nesting colony for birds.
Birds will abandon their nests if they are disturbed too much. Marlene Eader, with Audubon North Carolina, said having a larger space where they can remain undisturbed made a big difference.
“It’s fantastic!” Marlene Eader, with Audubon North Carolina, said. “It’s a wonderful experience on the beach we love the beach anyway and just being out here and when you have the opportunity to see something like this, this enriches the experience."
Additionally, for the first time this year, the police department rerouted an emergency lane that used to go through the middle of the bird colony.
Now, officers can still get to the sound side of the island but without ruffling any feathers.
“We are able to get through like we need to so it’s worked well for us,” said Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House. "You can just see the amount of birds we have out there this year, a lot more than in the past, so I think it’s been really successful.
Eader said birdwatchers are excited about the first oystercatcher chick they’ve seen survive here in five years.
She said the populations of skimmers and terns are in the hundreds.
“We have so many chicks out here now, I’m hoping beachgoers will watch their step,” Eader said. “The chicks match the sand and we don’t want them stepped on.”
She also wants to make sure visitors know to stay out of the posted area and do not set off fireworks, which will frighten the parents who will then abandon their nests.
Instead, she hopes visitors will appreciate a different show in the sky: the natural flight of the birds as they trade off parenting responsibilities for their young.
“It’s very spiritual for some,” she said of watching the birds.
Members of Audubon North Carolina are often on the beach (wearing blue t-shirts) to talk to visitors and answer questions about the birds.