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In the course of the last few months we partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to bring you a blog series focusing on the importance of trees, clean water and what actions we have taken to help. Not only do we and our communities rely on healthy trees and clean water, but so do the hundreds of species of native birds living in Florida. We had the opportunity to discuss the importance of protecting our native bird population with Eric Draper, President of Audubon Florida. Audubon Florida is a non-profit organization that advocates the protection of land, water and wildlife. Eric was happy to share his thoughts on this subject, and we begin with explaining why having clean water is vital to the hundreds of species of birds in our home state of Florida.

Eric says, “Florida has many healthy estuaries benefitting from the fresh water that flows from springs, through wetlands and down rivers and streams to make coastal waters productive and healthy for our native bird populations. I remember something a fishing guide told me years ago, ‘No water, no fish. No fish, no birds.’ Few people consider that most birds are water dependent. This is true for the many different species of birds that are native to Florida or migrate to Florida each year.” 

Eric goes on to say “Florida is home to many species of birds like egrets and herons, as well as beach-nesters like terns and plovers, raptors that glide over the wet lands and the many species of duck that visit us each year. Finding ways to help protect these birds’ food sources and ecosystem will not only help the survival of the imperiled native species, but will allow them to thrive.”

Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) near the nest

In an effort to keep birds’ habitats and food sources healthy, Audubon Florida and other partnered organizations have designated a network of Important Bird Areas statewide. They also work with many Florida businesses and cities to come up with creative ways to help species that have taken up unusual nesting areas due to loss of habitat. One such species, the Least Tern, have adapted toward gravel roof tops. 

Every spring, Least Terns return to Florida to breed and raise their young on flat open beaches off Florida’s coasts. However, because of the increasing population and visitors coming to Florida’s beaches each year, the Least Terns have been forced to find alternative nesting places. Gravel rooftops provide a safe place for Least Terns to raise their young, away from human disturbance or predators, but there are other risks to nesting on gravel rooftops. The chicks can fall off , become prey, get stepped on or even get run over.

Publix has 58 stores with gravel roofs in Florida, and of those 13 are regular colonies for the Least Tern species. Publix and Audubon Florida have teamed up to make sure these colonies can remain on the rooftops. Audubon “Chick Catchers” are given access to our roof tops and make regular visits to ensure  the colonies and chicks are safe. With joint cooperation between Audubon Florida and Publix, the Least Tern will have a safe spot to nest and this will help ensure the native species’ survival.

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We are happy to work with Audubon Florida for this important cause. You can learn more about the Audubon Florida and what they do to help protect Florida’s native species and ecosystems on their website here. You can also learn more about Publix’s efforts in sustainability and environmental protection.

Alec H.

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Alec H. started his career with Publix in 2012, serving in many roles in the store before transitioning into corporate first as an intern and eventually as a full-time associate on the Social Media team. He loves to bring you behind-the-scenes looks at our products, especially because he gets to learn something new each time he writes a new blog, too. Alec’s favorite holiday is Halloween, which is fitting since watching scary movies are is one of his favorite pastimes. When he’s not writing for the Publix Checkout or interacting with our customers on social media, you’ll find him playing with his two dogs (Buster and Diesel), jamming on his ukulele, playing video and board games, or running on the beautiful streets of St. Petersburg, FL.

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