New signage warns Pinellas County beachgoers about firework dangers to shorebirds

Ahead of the July 4 holiday, Florida officials are warning beachgoers about the dangers fireworks pose to some native birds. 

New signage warning about the dangers of fireworks near threatened shorebird species has been posted by FWC at some Pinellas County beach access points. 

READ: Hurricane Beryl takes aim at Windward Islands as 'extremely dangerous' storm

Pinellas County is home to four threatened seabird species: the black skimmer, American Oyster Catcher, Snowy Plover, and Least Tern, according to Holley Short, program manager at Audubon Florida Shorebird.

Fireworks are one of the many disturbances that caused FWC to deem those species as protected. That's in addition to a couple other factors. 

"Loss of suitable habitat, coastal development, sea level rise, all of these things that they're fighting against," she explained. 

Now, at beach access points where black skimmers gather in colonies, Redington Shores, St. Pete Beach, Honeymoon Island, and Fort DeSoto Park, there is signage notifying beach visitors about the important designated nesting area and warning about the penalties for disturbing nests.

"There is a colony on Redington Shores of just over 300 adults. And then a colony right on St. Pete Beach behind the Mariner resort of over 500 of these breeding skimmers," she said. "Where we have other nesting birds are places like Fort DeSoto County Park, which there's no fireworks there anyway. And Honeymoon State Park, which again, that's no fireworks as well."

SIGN UP: Click here to sign up for the FOX 13 daily newsletter

St. Pete Beach and Redington Shores also have local ordinances banning personal fireworks use on their beaches. 

Harry Tobin is a bird steward volunteer on St. Pete Beach for five years now. 

"A bird steward helps educate people about the birds and makes sure that they stay out of trouble while they're here during breeding season," he said.

Tobin has seen the effect fireworks have on the shorebirds.

"That's pretty stressful for the birds and as a result, it changes their behavior. They get cranky. They get antagonistic. They fight amongst themselves. They don't protect their young," he said.

Audubon Florida is seeking bird steward volunteers ahead of the 4th of July holiday. For more information click here.