Tips to Safely Share the Beach with Shorebirds this 4th of July

Be respectful of beach birds this weekend by keeping a safe distance from nests and avoiding single-use plastic

American Oystercatcher and chicks by Harry Collins Photography/Shutterstock

(June 29, 2022) This 4th of July, millions of people and birds alike will be sharing U.S. beaches. Humans flock to the shore to celebrate the holiday with fireworks and barbecues, while birds like American Oystercatcher, Black Skimmer, Least Tern, Snowy Plovers, and Wilson's Plovers gather to forage and raise their young. With so many individuals of various kinds wanting their own place on the beach, things can get crowded. 

The competition for space with people can stress out nesting birds, but there are ways to safely share the beach. Avoid disrupting our fellow feathered beachgoers by adhering to the following tips from American Bird Conservancy (ABC).  

Tips to Share the Beach and Help Coastal Birds

“Taking these actions will do far more than allow these beach-nesting birds to survive,” Gibbons said. “They will profoundly improve your beach-going experience with an increased awareness of place and appreciation of nature.”  

Different regions have different species nesting on the beaches, but many have similar behaviors and reactions to being disturbed. Knowing what you might encounter will help you avoid harming the birds, and it can make your beach trip even more fun. Here are some notable beach-nesting birds in four regions of the United States:

Birds of the Gulf Coast

Least Terns and Black Skimmers nest in colonies along the Gulf Coast. Wilson's and Snowy Plovers maintain single-pair territories, but can often be found within Least Tern colonies. American Oystercatchers tend to be more spread out and favor both beach habitat and islands covered with oyster shells (especially along the upper coast of Texas). Read more about ABC's Gulf Coast conservation effort and how we and our partners are working to help beach-nesting birds.

Birds of the Atlantic Coast

Federally Threatened Piping Plovers can be found on Atlantic Coast beaches extending from North Carolina to Maine. They are especially concentrated along the northeastern coast, notably along the beaches of Long Island, New York, and the southern Delmarva Peninsula. Other species you might encounter include the Least Tern, Black Skimmer, American Oystercatcher, and Wilson's Plover.

Birds of the Pacific Coast

Western beaches host populations of the federally Threatened Western Snowy Plover, Endangered California Least Tern, and the Black Oystercatcher (which is more frequently found on rocky rather than sandy beaches). While the terns tend to be colonial in their nesting habits, the plovers are more spread out, often favoring sites where rivers enter the ocean.

Birds of the Great Lakes

Inland beaches are also crucial habitats for shorebirds, and the Great Lakes area shouldn't be overlooked. Federally Endangered Great Lakes Piping Plovers are making a comeback and expanding their range to include historic nesting areas, including places like Illinois and Ohio. Other shorebird species, such as Killdeer, also rely on these areas.


American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations| | @JERutter

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