Many people are going to want to celebrate the Fourth of July at Southwest Florida's beaches, but Audubon Florida is stressing the importance of leaving personal fireworks behind.
Biologist Adam DiNuovo said the noise made by fireworks scare beach-nesting birds like black skimmers, least terns, and Wilson's plovers - and can hurt their chances for survival.
"These birds would be off the chicks or the eggs and a predator could come, or the chicks will just run up and down the beach and scatter," DiNuovo said. "It would just be a lot of chaos for an extended period of time."
There are over 400 nesting pairs of black skimmers on a protected area of beach on the north end of Marco Island, where fireworks have been prohibited because they also scare other important birds like bald eagles and burrowing owls.
DiNuovo said there are plenty of professional firework shows to enjoy. But he hopes people will come to the beach on Independence Day to learn more about nesting birds. Audubon Florida will have a teaching station near the black skimmer colony to educate interested beachgoers.
"We show them these (black skimmer) chicks," DiNuovo said. "Then they start to understand that we're not just crazy bird people, that there's a reason why we're out here."