World Shorebirds Day — an initiative that was started a few years ago to raise awareness of shorebirds and the need to conserve them and their habitats — takes place on Thursday, September 6.
“Some 50 percent of the world’s shorebird species are in decline, and vital habitat is being lost at a higher rate than ever,” the organizers say. “We urgently need to raise public awareness around the world of these imperiled birds’ plight and the need for shorebird conservation and research.”
World Shorebirds Day is an opportunity to learn more about the birds and their lifecycles. Moreover, citizen scientists can take action and participate in the Global Shorebird Count.
The count runs from September 5-11. Participants may count shorebirds anywhere in the world and report their sightings to eBird.
Regular counts carried out by thousands of volunteers and professionals worldwide can reveal distribution, population trends, or abundance of any species — information that is fundamental to the assessment of their status. Bird monitoring is a key tool to determine whether a population of a bird species is declining or increasing and/or needs coordinated conservation efforts or not. Careful and professional analysis of bird count data have proven to be essential for setting priorities for many shorebird species in the past, including the Red Knot.
Shorebird of the Year
Each year, organizers of World Shorebirds Day name one species the Shorebird of the Year. This year, they chose the Whimbrel, a fairly common species of curlew that occurs on six continents.
As a group, curlews are declining in many places. In 2017, a study found that the Numeniini tribe of curlews, godwits, whimbrels, and Upland Sandpiper are perhaps the world’s most threatened group of birds. And two of the Whimbrel’s closest relatives — Eskimo Curlew and Slender-billed Curlew — haven’t been seen in decades and are likely extinct. “We have to do everything to avoid the further disappearance of other curlew species,” says the head of World Shorebirds Day, Gyorgy Szimuly, a Hungarian birder and conservationist.
Climate change, habitat change and loss, poor productivity and hunting are the key factors for population crashes. International action plans have widely been implemented to save curlew species and to avoid further loss of populations. The Whimbrel is the only curlew species with global distribution that inhabits different kind of habitats during its annual life cycle. World Shorebirds Day’s contribution to the worldwide conservation efforts is to raise public awareness by sharing relevant information about curlew species, research and conservation projects in the next 12 months (and beyond).
To take part in the Global Shorebird Count, register and learn more here. Read the instructions about how to record your sightings on eBird and share them with World Shorebirds Day. — Matt Mendenhall, Editor