These Islands Are For The Birds

May 26, 2011

Beginning this week, residents are being asked to stay off two Connecticut islands. Connecticut’s environmental agency wants to allow the birds to nest, undisturbed. The public will not be allowed on Duck Island in Westbrook or on Charles Island in Milford until the beginning of September.

Department of Environmental Protection workers are putting up signs and fencing to keep people away from nesting areas. Wildlife Biologist Julie Victoria is with the D.E.P. “There’s very few islands like this off the Connecticut coast that are nesting areas for herons and egrets so any human disturbance that they encounter here --- I mean they have enough to deal with they have avian predators, they have raccoon predators, so you throw in the people too sometimes it’s just one too many things.”

Jenny Dickson, also with the D.E.P., says the nesting birds get agitated when people come by. The adults fly off. The chicks sometimes fall to the ground. “Once they fall out of the nest they’re much more likely to either die of exposure or die of predation. When you have things like that happen  you lose a lot of reproduction in the colony. If adults are disturbed too much they’ll also abandoned a colony and sometimes they’ll abandon it for decades.”

Right now Great and Snowy Egrets, both state threatened species are nesting in colonies, along with Black-crowned Night Herons. The state is also fencing off parts of beaches where Piping Plovers and Least Terns lay their eggs in the sand.