Port Tampa Bay reminds boaters to be mindful as migratory bird nesting season begins

- Port Tampa Bay, along with Audubon Florida, encourages recreational boaters to be respectful and aware of wildlife during the 2024 nesting season. Globally significant populations of migratory birds nest on the port’s two dredge material management areas and spoil islands in Hillsborough Bay throughout the summer. Both dredge islands are under the oversight of the Migratory Bird Protection Interagency Committee. The official nesting season runs from April 1 through August 31, 2024, and represents a cooperative effort between Port Tampa Bay, Audubon Florida, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and other local, state, and federal agencies.

The islands provide a protected nesting habitat for rare and threatened species, including American Oystercatchers and Least Terns, to complete their reproductive cycle. Each year, the islands become one of the bay area’s prime nesting sites, hosting thousands of nesting birds. In recent years, the port’s dredge material management areas and spoil islands experienced the state’s greatest diversity of nesting shorebird species. During the 2023 season, the spoil island, called 3D, hosted nearly 4,300 pairs of nesting birds made up of several species of tern (including the Least Tern), American Oystercatchers, Black Skimmers, and others. The port’s spoil island just to the north, 2D, saw American Oystercatchers, which are a threatened species.

“Port Tampa Bay is proud to welcome the thousands of migratory nesting birds who make our spoil islands their home each summer. We are proud of our environmental record and take great care to protect the natural resources that make our region special. We encourage everyone to do their part to protect the species that thrive in Tampa Bay,” explained Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay President and CEO.

“Florida provides critical nesting habitat for unique sea, shore, and wading birds. We can work together to avoid disturbing the birds during this critical time by giving them plenty of space, disposing of trash properly (including fishing lines), and respecting posted areas protecting nesting birds, ” said Audrey DeRose-Wilson, Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Florida.