The hurricanes and storms of 2004 & 2005 changed the barrier islands of Gulf Islands National Seashore. While most would think hurricanes are purely destructive, this is not so. Shorebirds that nest in our area, such as least terns and black skimmers prefer open flat beach areas.
Least terns arrive each year in April and begin to nest a short time later. Their nests are simple scrapes in the sand. The eggs are well camouflaged. Black skimmers arrive a short time later. Their nests and eggs are larger than the least terns.
These birds become disturbed by humans in their nesting areas and use different strategies to defend their nests. Dive bombing, scurrying back and forth, and feigning a broken wing means you are too close to their nests or chicks. Eggs and chicks are well camouflaged and you may not be able to see them. Eggs left exposed to the elements will not hatch and young chicks need the shelter of their parents to protect them from the hot sun.
Visitors are encouraged to leave areas if they find themselves being dive bombed by birds or notice birds acting oddly. While most areas are posted with closure signs, some are not. Please leave the area by back-tracking along the same path you entered by. You can help make the nesting season successful!
Did You Know?
Because of the tropical-like conditions, the U. S. Army established the Cat Island War Dog Training Camp in south Mississippi during World War II. A variety of dog breeds were trained to guard, deliver messages, and attack the enemy. Cat Island is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore.