Bird Island

Based on “Our Amazing Bird Island”
by Nina Barcik published May 2017.

Right off the East Coast of Sewall’s Point, visible from The Archipelago, there is one of the many treasure of the Treasure Coast; Bird Island. Here is a brief history!

1930’s: According to our local historian, Sandra Thurlow, all the islands in the Indian River, in our area, are a result of dredging the Intra-Coastal Waterway. The first intra-Coastal dredging was done in the late 1930s.

1950’s: Sandra’s book, Sewall’s Point, has a picture taken in the 1950s showing Bird Island.

2011: Martin County undertook an extensive shoreline stabilization project. Bird Island has been eroding (estimated 30%) and previous attempts using planting were minimally successful. “The project consisted of removal of exotic species plants and construction of an offshore breakwater that was connected to the north end of the island where the erosions due to wave action both natural and boats, was evident. This project also included further plantings.”

2012: Martin County contracted with Sustainable Ecosystems International to conduct bird monitoring during construction and once, every other week through August. I was lucky enough to accompany Greg Braun on one of these trips while he was working for (SEI). We went out in a canoe carrying a telescope that allowed us to see, for instance, a purple feather under the eye of a bird that meant that he was in breeding plumage!

The species of birds he observed nesting during this period were as follows:

  • Wood Storks
  • Brown Pelicans
  • Double-crested Cormorants
  • Great Egrets
  • Cattle Egrets
  • Anhinga
  • Tri-colored Heron
  • Snowy Egret
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Black-crowned Night Heron
  • Great White Heron
  • Oyster Catchers

Other species observed but not confirmed as nesters:

  • White Ibis
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Magnificent Frigate
  • Reddish Egret
  • Bald Eagles
  • Gulls
  • Terns
  • Shorebirds
  • Kingfishers
  • Chimney Swifts
  • Fish Crows

2014: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee (FWC) awarded Bird Island its Critical Wildlife Designation (CWA). Based on the abundance and diversity of birds using the island, Biologists consider Bird Island one of the top 10 nesting sites in South Florida! There, therefore, awarded it the first CWA established in more than 20 years. As a result of this, new signs were placed around the Island (and waters immediately surrounding it) stating that it is closed to public access throughout the year for their protection. We are truly fortunate to have this treasure on our coast.