Important Bird Areas

Bay County Beaches

Florida

Crooked "Island" and Shell "Island" contiguous with Tyndall Air Force Base lands, parts of St. Andrews State Park and Tyndall Air Force Base.

Located in the Gulf of Mexico in southeastern Bay County south of Panama City, extending from St. Andrews State Park southeast to Mexico Beach.
Two long peninsulae connected to the mainland. Crooked Island is a highly dynamic beach that consists of two separate peninsulae known as East Crooked Island and West Crooked Island. Each is about 5 miles (8 km) in length. The eastern end of East Crooked Island and the western end of West Crooked Island are attached to the mainland. Only a small part of what formerly was East Crooked Island remains an island. Crooked Island has been designated as a Critical Wildlife Area by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and has been designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as Critical Habitat for the Piping Plover. Shell Island became an island when a pass was dredged along its western edge; its eastern portion now is connected to the mainland via West Crooked Island. It is about 6 miles (9.6 km) long, and its eastern end is accessible through Tyndall Air Force Base, while its western end may be accessed by boat shuttle from St. Andrews State Park.  West Crooked Island and Shell Island both contain Choctawhatchee beach mice (Peromyscus polionotus allophrys) and East Crooked Island has St. Andrew beach mice (P. p. peninsularis), both federally- and state-listed Endangered subspecies. Sea turtles nest along the beaches.

Ornithological Summary

Both ?islands? support significant populations of shorebirds, especially Piping and Snowy plovers. Only a rudimentary bird list is available.

Conservation Issues

Crooked ?Island:? *human disturbance, *habitat succession. Shell ?Island:? *human disturbance, *habitat succession, feral cats, feral dogs.

Much of the ?islands? are owned by Tyndall Air Force Base but are not used for military activities. The far eastern end of East Crooked ?Island? is private property. Parts of West Crooked ?Island? are used for recreation by military personnel, and other parts are accessible to the public. ? Dogs are prohibited on the Air Force Base and State Park portions of the ?island,? although enforcement is spotty. ?Coyotes (Canis latrans) and feral cats and dogs are removed when encountered to reduce impacts to listed species such as shorebirds and nesting sea turtles.

Ownership

Crooked ?Island:? U.S. Air Force (Tyndall Air Force Base). Shell ?Island:? U.S. Air Force (eastern portion; Tyndall Air Force Base), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (western portion; St. Andrews State Park), and private owners (middle portion)

Habitat

Crooked ?Island:? *coastal strand. Shell ?Island:? *coastal strand, tidal marsh