[CT Birds] Please watch out for coastal waterbirds!!!

Scott Kruitbosch skruitbosch at ctaudubon.org
Fri May 25 10:57:11 EDT 2012

I thought I would make a bit of a personal plea to all of you wonderful people from my position as coordinator of the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds - a joint effort by Audubon Connecticut and the Connecticut Audubon Society to improve conditions for coastal waterbirds in Connecticut – to help out Piping Plover, American Oystercatcher, Least Tern, and Common Tern this weekend, among other species. As you know Memorial Day weekend can be an incredibly busy time on the beaches with thousands of people who do not know a thing about the birds. If you can try to stay off the beaches and coastal areas at high traffic times and do your birding elsewhere that would be great. Long Beach, Sandy Point, Milford Point, etc. - these are all fun places to find birds, but warm holiday weekends are not the time to do so if you care about the little ones.

If you do visit a beach please maintain a very safe distance from the birds and string fencing and report any problems you see to ctwaterbirds at gmail.com where I can respond to you, or you can even call or email me if you prefer. Let’s remember the string fencing and exclosures are set up a minimal barrier, and the birds actually require more room and space and often leave these areas, so being anywhere near the fencing is not a good spot to be. This year we also have a high number of Piping Plover chicks that have hatched in the last week. The vast majority of beachgoers mean no harm to them, but the stress inflicted with this extra traffic, the garbage left behind, the few people who do cross the line, and other problems will mean Piping Plover and American Oystercatcher chicks are going to die this week, and not by natural causes.

This is not some dramatic message, it is a sad reality and one that was rather sobering to consider when I read in plain terms about how CT DEEP wanted to get a firm count of all the chicks in the state so that they could "calculate the losses" next week after the beach weekend. Ugh. Nests that have yet to hatch are going to be destroyed by people and/or predators attracted to the trash left behind meaning even more chicks die. CT DEEP and USFWS have very few personnel to cover an entire coastline (think of their lack of budgets). We have several seasonal and full-time staff members who will be out to survey and monitor, and we also have a great core of volunteers to help monitor and educate the public on these birds - thank you to all of you who are. None of this could exist without you as I have learned first-hand in the last few months.

Connecticut is fortunate to have an awesome birding community full of friends and ethical birders, intelligent people who know how to do things. You all “get it” so I hope you understand this request is not a condemnation of any person or a result of any bad event. We all do know some birders and photographers can cross the line and be stupid about what they are doing, but luckily, they are rare. I am not trying to be a jerk and I am sorry if any of this came across that way. We just need your help and cooperation as responsible birders. Additionally, I hope you all consider how much work and effort with absolutely minimal staff and funding on the state, federal, and org levels goes into this, with handfuls of people working 12+ hours a day 7 days a week to protect these birds and keep them successfully breeding in our state.

So please, if you can forgo birding at a coastal beach or island full of these waterbirds and help allow them to protect and raise their fluffy and adorable little chicks, it would be greatly appreciated. There is a reason we do not post nest locations and roosting owls on this list, but think about it - everyone knows where these nests are and thousands of people go to see them to tan, swim, build sand castles, etc. If the same happened to a Long-eared Owl roost there would be outrage and talk of how to keep everyone out of the area. Considering these coastal waterbirds are all threatened species we should try to steer recreational birding traffic away from these conservation priority nesters whenever possible. Thank you all!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician
Connecticut Audubon Society
2325 Burr St.
Fairfield, CT 06824
CAS blog: ctaudubon.blogspot.com
CAS Twitter: twitter.com/CTAudubon
Email: skruitbosch at ctaudubon.org

More information about the CTBirds mailing list