MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – Hundreds of species of birds live here or make migratory stops along the Gulf Coast. But, the places these birds call home are being affected.

One way is the weather. Cortney Weatherby, the Coastal Outreach Manager of Alabama Audubon, says, “We have an increase in intensity and frequency of storms that are moving through. Those storms are causing erosion and stuff like that on our beaches.”

Another is tourism. With close to 9 million visitors making their way to our beaches every year, and more construction along the shoreline, natural areas are getting smaller.

“It is taking away and breaking up critical habitat that not just the birds, but a lot of different coastal wildlife needs,” says Weatherby.

Bird lovers are doing their part to help. This time of year, they look for bird health habits, such as the defensive behavior called the broken wing display. May thru September, Alabama Audubon monitors nesting behavior. Biologists determine if birds are able to nest, or if something caused them to fail. One confirmation is checking bird eggs, which is not an easy task.

Weatherby says, “They’re really tiny and they’re really well camouflaged, which means that it can be really difficult to find them on a huge beach stretch.”

Least Tern Nest, Credit: Ruby Rolland and Cortney Weatherby

Whether it be our coastal or inland spots, there’s so much that Alabama Audubon does to conserve these bird species, but here are things you can do to conserve these species and protect the Gulf Coast.

“If people head to the beach in the summer, the biggest thing that we ask is to stay out of those posted nesting areas,” says Weatherby.

You’ll see very clear and obvious signs.

And, keep those dogs on a leash!

Weatherby says, “If a dog happens to run through those nesting areas, the damage they can have by accidentally stepping on eggs and chicks can be really huge in a small amount of time.”

Two more tips. Don’t litter! And, do not feed the birds!

“When you feed the seagulls, your Cheetos and stuff like that, gulls are actually another predator to our little baby birds. So, we want to make sure that we’re not drawing them into that closer proximity,” says Weatherby.

Alabama Audubon, doing their part to protect birds while Growing the Gulf Coast.

Alabama Audubon receives grants from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Alabama Audubon also partners with the Alabama Trustee Implementation Group, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Audubon Society.