By: Brad Winn, Director, Shorebird Habitat Management
Hudsonian Godwit, Monomoy NWR, Massachusetts, Photo credit: Brad Winn
World Shorebirds Day is a celebration of shorebirds and those who admire them, study them, and work to reduce threats to their populations. This global event takes place annually on September 6, when shorebirds are in their peak migratory motion throughout the flyways of the world.
Migrations within the Americas at this time of year include some of the most far-reaching movement of any animals on the planet. The super long-distance migrants, like Bar-tailed Godwit, Hudsonian Godwit, Bristle-thighed Curlew, White-rumped Sandpiper, Red Knot, and Whimbrel are dropping out of far-northern barren-lands of Arctic and sub-Arctic Alaska and Canada, cutting arcing paths south across oceans and continents. Some flights are unimaginable, with birds flying non-stop without food or water for seven, eight, or even nine days. Some travel to wintering sites in places as insanely far away as New Zealand, South Pacific atolls, Caribbean islands, Brazil, Chiloe Island in Chile, the Pampas of Argentina, and even Tierra del Fuego Island at the tip of South America.
Other more subtle migrations are occurring within the Americas, like the American Oystercatchers in New England starting to head down the U.S. Atlantic coast to wintering areas from New Jersey to Florida. Marbled Godwit, that have been nesting in North Dakota and Saskatchewan prairies, fly for two days to spend ten months of the year on the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia. Most intriguing of all are the shorebird species that have been spending the last few months on the coasts of central Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Brazil, and mid-coast Chile that now move south into Patagonia to breed. These Southern Cone natives like Two-banded and Magelanic Plovers and Rufous-chested Dotterels are just preparing to begin breeding, not in our autumn but their spring.
The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) has many sites organizing workshops, educational activities, and community events to celebrate shorebirds. Whether they travel tens of thousands of miles or just a few hundred, shorebirds connect WHSRN sites across the hemisphere, demonstrating the importance of the WHSRN network and managing the habitats they depend upon. The birds are true diplomats for the human world, disregarding our physical and political borders with each other, strengthening our need to communicate and work between states, provinces, and countries on universal conservation needs.
How you can participate in World Shorebirds Day
One of the key events of World Shorebirds Day is the Global Shorebird Count, which takes place September 1-7 this year. Regular monitoring by volunteers and professionals is fundamental to protecting shorebird populations and their habitat. Check out this map to see how WHSRN sites are participating in World Shorebird Day across the network. Know of an event happening at a WHSRN site near you? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to the map!
It’s not too late to plan your own shorebird count or other activity. Register HERE, and join Manomet and WHSRN staff, site partners, and experts and enthusiasts around the world in celebrating shorebirds this year. There are events taking place from Bahia Lomas to Delaware Bay to the Bay of Fundy!
World Shorebirds Day was created to achieve the following goals:
- To raise awareness of the need to protect shorebirds and their habitats throughout their life cycles;
- To raise public awareness of the need for continued shorebird research, monitoring, and conservation; and
- To connect people with shorebirds through wetland sites around the world.
World Shorebirds Day is a day to pause and marvel at these incredible migrants and unite in the common goal to protect them.