Shorebirds: Florida

The state of Florida is home to over 500 avian species. Florida has approximately 663 miles (1,067 km) of beaches, which provide an ideal habitat for a variety of shorebirds. Commonly found in shallow waters, mudflats or shorelines, shorebirds utilize these areas for many reasons. Fewer competitors result in greater food availability and areas with thick vegetation are used for shelter and nesting. These birds and habitats are very delicate, and any disturbance to island morphology, water and vegetation composition, or invertebrate density (food source) will have a severe impact. Shorebirds also help maintain a healthy ecosystem through the use of their excrement. Guano fertilizes the water and mudflats that help nourish microscopic plants. These plants, known as phytoplankton grow and serve as the base of the food chain.