Longboat's Quiet Season

Longboat Key, off Sarasota, Florida, is primarily a residential community.  During the warmer months, many home and condo owners head for northern latitudes while most renters, known as "snowbirds" appear from December to March.  As a result, the island's human population is significantly reduced during the summer months.

Like their human neighbors, birds are also less numerous and diverse during the summer.  Most shorebirds have moved on to breeding grounds across the Arctic and Northern Plains; indeed, on our beach walk this morning, shorebird species were limited to willets, sanderlings and a lone black-bellied plover. While brown pelicans, herons, egrets and many seabirds are permanent residents on Longboat Key, their numbers also decrease in summer, when some disperse to more northern regions of the Continent; one notable exception is the magnificent frigatebird, which is more common along South Florida shores during the warmer months.  Of course, winter residents such as northern gannets, black scoters, loons, American white pelicans and red-breasted mergansers are on their breeding grounds up north and will not arrive until autumn.

While the human and bird populations have entered their quiet season, weather patterns are far less tranquil during the summer months.  The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and will not end until mid November; in addition, the dry season across South Florida (December to May) has given way to humid air and late day thunderstorms.  Clearly, quiet season is a relative term.