Shorebird biologist Abby Sterling joined the Manomet staff in the spring of 2018 to lead the work on the Georgia Bight Shorebird Initiative. We sat down with Abby to learn more about the work that she’ll be doing for Manomet to address the known threats and identify emerging potential impact to the health of shorebirds and their key habitats in the Southeastern U.S.
How did you get interested in studying shorebirds?
I first discovered the incredible world of shorebirds when I was working as a naturalist guide on Little St. Simons Island, which is a small eco-resort on an otherwise undeveloped barrier island on the Georgia coast. While teaching island guests about all the different species that use our island throughout the year, and seeing how those compelling life histories can draw someone in who may not have even held binoculars before, I began to appreciate shorebirds in a new light.
Tired and hungry red knots that were feeding on the beaches in front of us had the ability to connect us to faraway places like Tierra del Fuego, or the Arctic tundra. And shorebirds accomplish remarkable feats! I was so impressed by their endurance-flying thousands of miles non-stop and by their toughness for nesting and raising chicks in extreme environments. Small bits of fluff that are able to survive a snowstorm on the tundra or the unyielding heat on the beaches of Georgia were so inspiring.