Beach-nesting Birds

As a group, beach-nesting birds are among the most threatened of all migratory birds. Of the 51 species that breed in North America, 22 are declining in population.

Black Skimmer, Robert Stalnaker

Bringing Back Beach-nesting Birds – North

Our Beach-nesting Birds Program continues to work to bring back populations of declining shorebirds, including Black Skimmers, Least Terns, and Wilson’s and Snowy Plovers, on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

We had good success in 2014 by protecting key breeding sites for Gulf beach-nesting birds in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and we started expanding into Alabama. Highlights included:

  • surveying over 3,600 acres Gulf-wide for Least Tern, Black Skimmer, and Wilson’s and Snowy Plover nesting activity,
  • protecting more than 600 acres of identified nesting areas with signs and symbolic fencing,
  • directly reaching more than 18,500 adults and children through nest site stewardship and other community outreach events, as well as 114,000+ people through and social media, and
  • conducting a media campaign in coastal Texas centered around our “Fish, Swim, and Play from 50 Yards Away” concept.

Snowy Plover on nest, Kacy Ray

We monitored 1,264 beach-nesting birds’ nests and over 1,800 breeding pairs. In Galveston, Texas, we documented three Snowy Plover pairs that produced three fledges. These are the first pairs documented to produce fledges on the upper Texas coast in the past five years.

Key partners in our Gulf Coast Beach-nesting birds program include Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Houston Audubon, Galveston Park Board of Trustees, Audubon Louisiana, Louisiana State Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama State Parks, and Eckerd College.

Learn more on our “Help Gulf Birds” site.

Wilson’s Plover, Greg Lavaty

Bringing Back Beach-nesting Birds – South

South of the U.S. border, our efforts to benefit migratory shorebirds are also taking off:

  • ABC is working with our partners at Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program to deploy geolocators on Wilson’s Plovers that stage on the central Texas coast before departing south on what has been a mysterious migration. The data obtained will complement our work on nesting ecology and adult survival; once we better understand the plovers’ migration path and key wintering sites, we will be able to work with Latin American partners to conserve these rare shorebirds.
  • We helped Pronatura Noreste in Mexico restore 60 acres of mangroves in Laguna Madre to support habitat conservation for Reddish Egret, Snowy Plover, Wilson’s Plover, and other migrants.
  • We worked with Pronatura Noreste to secure conservation agreements on private lands, where freshwater ponds provide a critical opportunity for birds coming from the salt-laden Laguna Madre to “desalinate.”

We also work closely with federal and local governments to reduce the presence of invasive species on islands, fence off important sandbars from predators, and limit access to islands that provide important nesting habitat.