Shorebirds like Western Sandpipers rely on a variety of habitats, and many are under threat. By making decisions that benefit shorebirds, we can help #BringBirdsBack.
According to the Pacific Shorebird Conservation Initiative, "The migratory nature of shorebirds makes them especially vulnerable to threats. Harmful changes to wetlands, grasslands, beaches, mudflats, mangroves and tundra require us to act now to conserve and restore these important habitats, which also provide homes and livelihoods for people."
Learn more about shorebird conservation initiatives in your region here. And be sure to download Audubon's Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy (PDF) for a comprehensive look at threats to shorebirds as well as conservation strategies and risks to success. (We'd like to recognize Nils Warnock, PhD, BirdNote board member and science advisor, for his contributions to this publication.)
Be informed about the key threats to shorebirds and the ways you can help:
The threat of development
Commercial and residential development in shorebird habitat is a significant and widespread threat. But research is revealing new information to guide conservation efforts:
This Princeton study on shorebirds suggests that when conserving species, not all land is equal (Science Daily)
Research by NOAA determined that shoreline hardening and development hurts shorebirds and waterfowl.
("Hardening" is the addition of structures and materials to protect shorelines.)
Ways to help
Support protection and optimal management of shorebird habitat. Many local, regional, national, and international conservation organizations are leading the way, including Audubon, American Bird Conservancy, and BirdLife International. Take a few minutes to search for an organization near you.
The threat of climate change
According to the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), shorebirds are "extremely vulnerable" to the following changes:
- Loss of habitat due to rising tides
- Hotter and drier conditions in some regions
- Shrub encroachment on nesting habitat in a warming Arctic
- Mismatched timing of migration and availability of food resources
Learn more about the threat of climate change from WHRSN.
Read this Audubon story about the dismal shorebird breeding season in 2018.
Ways to help:
Plant more natives at home and in your community. Audubon makes it easy to find native plants for your area.
Participate in the International Shorebird Survey (ISS) and contribute data on shorebird populations and trends.
Report your sightings of shorebirds through eBird. The data you contribute will help scientists better understand bird ranges as our climate changes.
Check out Audubon's Guide to Climate Action.
Reduce your carbon footprint with these tips from Columbia University.
The threat of disturbance from recreational activities
Learn more about human disturbance to shorebirds in this publication from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Virginia Tech.
Check out this research on the effects of beach closure and human activities (journal of Urban Ecosystems).
Ways to help:
Become a bird-friendly beachgoer (Audubon).
Learn about the incredible endurance of shorebirds:
Fantastic Journeys: Shorebirds Are Next-Level Athletes (National Audubon Society)
Western Sandpiper © Jack Sutton CC
American Avocets © Tom Grey
Dunlin © Daniel Arndt CC