PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Approximately 70 adult Least Terns are nesting at the end of the Panama City Marina T-dock.

“They spend their breeding season, which is basically our summer on their breeding grounds and Florida is one of these breeding grounds,” Audubon Shorebird Program Manager Caroline Stahala said. “Usually, the breeding season lasts from about April through September and at some point, they will leave our state and head south.”

Experts said it’s not a surprise these birds are nesting along our coastline.

“Least Terns use open sand and gravel habitat as their nesting sites so this particular area here at the Panama City Marina is a perfect habitat for them because it is a wide open space filled with gravel and a mix of sand habitat,” Stahala said.

While this is a good nesting spot, it’s not without some dangers to the birds and their eggs.

“They have to actually sit on the nests to keep them cool so if these birds are disturbed and they flush the eggs and actually the chicks to have the possibility of overheating and perishing,” Stahala said.

City officials are doing their best to protect the shorebirds from harm. Every Thursday, bird experts join them at the T-dock from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

“It is very exciting just to see them go through the process of courtship, feeding each other, nesting, and then seeing babies,” Panama City Environmental Compliance Supervisor Rebecca Tackitt said.

Experts encourage community members to join them for a closer view of the Least Terns and learn about the birds.

If you want to see the birds, don’t do it on your own. Disturbing them is against the law and is punishable with a fine or jail time.