Job Opportunity: Director, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

Written by Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences

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Would you like to lead one of the world’s largest and most successful conservation networks? The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) is seeking an energetic Director to provide vision and leadership to its Executive Office and throughout the Network.
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Now Available: Wilson’s Plover Conservation Plan

Written by Meredith Gutowski Morehouse/WHSRN
An adult male WIlson's Plover hunts fiddler crabs and other invertebrates in the marsh on Cumberland Island National Seashore. April 2012. © Lauren Deaner
An adult male WIlson’s Plover hunts fiddler crabs and other invertebrates in the marsh on Cumberland Island National Seashore. April 2012. © Lauren Deaner
In response to the conservation priorities established in the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, the WHSRN Executive Office continues to work with shorebird experts in partner organizations to develop action-oriented Species Conservation Plans. Today, we proudly announce the completion and publication of  the Conservation Plan for the Wilson’s Plover (Charadrius wilsonia) by dedicated scientist and author Margo Zdravkovic, with support from Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Coastal Bird Conservation (CBC)/Conservian, Inc., National Audubon Society, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The 170-page, peer-reviewed plan summarizes what is known to date about Wilson’s Plover ecology, status, updated population estimates, habitat needs, threats, and important sites throughout the Western Hemisphere. It also identifies and prioritizes conservation actions needed in the short term to recover the species’ population for the long term. The plan further offers new data and insight from CBC into the complicated, cooperative ways that the otherwise territorial pairs of breeding Wilson’s Plovers will work in groups to defend a wider breeding territory. Recognizing and understanding this and other behavior is essential to conduct more accurate survey– and monitoring-related conservation efforts. In addition, the plan discusses the impact and effects of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster on this species and its habitats along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Range map of the three subspecies of Wilson’s Plover: Charadrius wilsonia wilsonia (yellow), C. w. cinnamonius (orange), C. w. beldingi (green) / © Conservian
Range map of the three subspecies of Wilson’s Plover: Charadrius wilsonia wilsonia (yellow), C. w. cinnamonius (orange), C. w. beldingi (green) / © Conservian
We applaud and appreciate Ms. Zdravkovic’s tireless dedication in developing this plan and her commitment to the species. We also are grateful to the many shorebird biologists and conservation partners who contributed their data, time, and/or feedback during its development.
Male and Female Wilson's Plover at Cumberland Island National Seashore. © Lauren Deaner
Male and Female Wilson’s Plover at Cumberland Island National Seashore. © Lauren Deaner
The Conservation Plan for the Wilson’s Plover (Charadrius wilsonia) can be viewed or downloaded at the WHSRN Species Conservation Plan webpage, along with a Spanish executive summary, and our 19 other species plans published and being implemented to date. Also available on this page is our interactive GoogleEarth map file of species-specific important areas, updated with Wilson’s Plover sites.
For more information, please contact Margo Zdravkovic (MargoZ@Coastalbird.org), Director, Coastal Bird Conservation/Conservian, Inc., or Meredith Gutowski Morehouse (mgmorehouse@manomet.org), Conservation Specialist, WHSRN Executive Office, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.

Timekeeping birds unlock early migration mystery

Written by Planet Earth Online
The remarkable timekeeping of birds could finally explain how some bird species are able to respond to climate change by migrating earlier and earlier each year.
Black-tailed Godwit. © Andreas Trepte
Black-tailed Godwit. © Andreas Trepte
According to a new study, individual Black-tailed Godwits migrate at more or less the same time every year. But the migration of the population as a whole seems to be happening progressively earlier.
Dr Jenny Gill of the University of East Anglia, who led the research, explains:
The only explanation that’s left, is that new birds are hatching and migrating earlier. As the older birds die off, the population fills up with early migrators.
Climate change is likely to be driving this change because Black-tailed Godwits nest earlier in warmer years. Birds that hatch earlier are likely to have more time to gain the body condition needed for migration, and to find good places to nest in the winter.
The team have monitored a population of Black-tailed Godwits for over 20 years. The citizen science project relied on the help of more than 2,000 bird-watching volunteers across Europe.
In winter, the wading birds can be found in estuaries all the way down the west coast of Europe, as they flee the harsh Arctic conditions of their Icelandic home.
It’s long been known that birds tend to return to the same place each time they migrate: that’s why many of the characters in your garden will be familiar to you.
But the new study, published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first to show they also return at the same time, within just a few days. Dr. Gill says:
They can tell the time. I have no idea how, but they can.
We thought that individual birds might migrate earlier or later in response to the weather. But it seems that, whatever the weather, they migrate at almost exactly the same time every year; it’s quite remarkable.
If you think about it from the bird’s point of view, it makes sense. You know that the place you’ve been to before will be available, and you know that it will be available at that time.
Other studies have shown that birds which migrate over longer distances have found it difficult to adapt their migration cycles to a changing climate. Many of those species are also suffering rapid decline. The study could explain why those birds are struggling to respond. Dr. Gill also added:
Many long-distance migrants arrive so late on to the breeding grounds that they only have a short time in which to mate and nest. They simply don’t have time to respond to warming conditions by nesting earlier.
Reference: Jenny Gill, Jose Alves, William Sutherland, Graham Appleton, Peter Potts and Tomas Gunnarsson, ‘Why is timing of bird migration advancing when individuals are not,’ Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2013

Action Alert: PA House Targets Endangered Species

Written by Audubon Action Center

Some PA legislators want to to remove special protection for the Piping Plover and many other bird species that are disappearing in Pennsylvania. © Myer Bornstein Photo Bee 1
Some PA legislators want to to remove special protection for the Piping Plover and many other bird species that are disappearing in Pennsylvania. © Myer Bornstein Photo Bee 1

Pennsylvania’s endangered and threatened species program is in trouble!  House Bill 1576 would force unnecessary bureaucratic red tape into Pennsylvania’s endangered and threatened species program, taking the program out of the hands of biologists and giving it to politicians.

The bill would make protection of habitat far more difficult, and allow lawmakers–not scientists and resource experts–to invalidate protection for rare plants and animals. It would tie the hands of agencies in charge of species protection, and allow developers to further fragment and destroy our most precious songbird nurseries.

Send an email to your House legislator and ask that he or she oppose HB 1576!

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Irina reaches Saudi Arabia

Posted by BirdLife International The Amazing Journey Project
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Irina is now in North West Saudi Arabia near Tabuk and appears to be in an area of irrigated, agricultural pivot fields. © Image courtesy of BirdLife International
One fascinating aspect of Sociable Lapwing migration is that these birds make their journeys in a series of hops rather than in one jump.
The last review of our satellite-tagged birds’ movements was made on October 28th and at that point we found Boris had remained staging near the Turkey/Syria border for at least 19 days and Ainur has remained in the same location for a month in South East Turkmenistan. While conditions remain favourable, migrating birds use these stopovers to feed, rest and restore their energy before travelling on.
Irina has however pushed on south and she is now in North West Saudi Arabia near Tabuk and appears to be in an area of irrigated, agricultural pivot fields.
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Irina’s location in pivot fields at Tabuk.
Irina’s arrival in Tabuk is significant as it confirms this location as a current regular stopover/wintering site. Last year, on November 15th 2012,  Rob Tovey found a flock of ten birds close by and Abaj, one of our previously satellite-tagged birds, was also found nearby in January 2011.
Previous historical records of Sociable Lapwing flocks in Saudi Arabia include 25 in 1934 and 45 in 1988. Irina’s arrival in Saudi is only the seventh record since 1950.
Rob Tovey also recorded a larger wintering flock of 35 Sociable Lapwings some 100km further south in South-western Saudi Arabia near Jizan in February this year.
It will be interesting to now see where Irina heads next. Will she stay and winter in Saudia Arabia or perhaps push on again and head across the Red Sea into Africa?
Here is a map showing the progress of our three tagged birds so far this autumn.
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Tagged Sociable Lapwing progress as at 28th October 2013.
If you would like to sign up for email alerts so you can stay in touch with the progress of our three tagged birds please follow this link.
If you have seen any Sociable Lapwings recently or encounter any in the coming months we’d like to hear from you. You can submit your own sightings here.
We look forward to bringing you more news of the next stage of the Sociable Lapwings amazing journey shortly.
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