Black skimmers make big comeback on Sarasota beaches

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Black skimmers have set up their nests on Lido Beach and there's something beachgoers need to know: Skimmers are protected birds and, with the busy beach season about to start, experts say to give them space.

It’s the law.

They're not hard to spot. Black skimmers on like to make their presence known.

Ken Turner, with Beach Works Sarasota, keeps an eye on them while he's working.

“The birds kind of take care of themselves,” Turner explained.  "I like the beauty of them."

Kylie Wilson, with Audubon Florida, takes an even closer look at them.

“These birds are very quirky. They draw a lot of support to themselves," Wilson said.

It's the 4th year black skimmers set up a nesting colony on Lido Beach.

Less than two months into nesting, Wilson says she has already counted 100 black skimmer nests and, by the end of the season, she expects more than 400.

“They come here because they're successful year after year,” she said.

Their success is vital. The birds are a threatened species.

But on Lido Beach, they're thriving as the third largest colony in the state.

“With the holidays coming up it's very important to know to give these guys space, not to do anything that would be incredibly disturbing,” Wilson explained. “Their importance is in their uniqueness, in my opinion. If we don't protect these species of birds - the quirky, cool ones - then all we will have is crows and gulls.”

As people start to crowd the beach for summer, Wilson asks people to be good guests.

And, like she does, keep an eye out for the skimmers.

“Beach-nesting birds are losing habitat from both sides, from beach erosion and coastal development. We really need to make sure we leave space for them so they can do what they've been doing for centuries,” she said.