Puget Sound Shorebird Survey
|A nonprofit organization committed to ecological research and conservation
|Beginning in the winter of 2012, Ecostudies Institute, in
collaboration with Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and
US Forest Service International Program, began coordinating
a citizen science shorebird monitoring effort in Puget Sound.
The 2012 winter survey focused on the four bays in North
Puget Sound: Padilla, Samish,Skagit, and Port Susan. This
program is part of large-scale, flyway-wide shorebird
monitoring effort called the Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey.
This multi-partnered program will work to address this problem. The goals of the project are to: (1)
quantify trends in distribution and abundance of shorebirds at local sites and across their range, (2)
develop a analytical framework to evaluate specific hypotheses about the factors influencing population
changes, and (3) conduct outreach and education to establish a motivated group of citizen surveyors to
engage the public and encourage support for conservation actions. In 2011, initial surveys were
conducted in California, Canada, Mexico, Panamá, Colombia, Ecuador and Perú.
In Washington State, Puget Sound contains 26 estuarine sites that support > 1,000 shorebirds.
However, the major stopover and wintering areas, especially for Dunlin and Western Sandpiper are
located in four large estuaries in northern Puget Sound that empty into Samish, Padilla, Skagit, and Port
Susan Bays. Together, these sites annually support >50% of overwintering shorebirds in the Puget
Sound. We will focus our shorebird surveys at these four bays. Skagit and Port Susan Bays support up
to 45,000 wintering Dunlin and 25,000 migrating western Sandpipers, while Samish and Padilla Bays
support up to 25,000 wintering Dunlin and 25,000 migrating western Sandpipers.
Although these estuaries in Puget Sound are of great conservation importance to shorebirds and
species, they have been highly modified and remain extremely threatened. For example, in northern
Puget Sound approximately 80% of tidal estuarine wetlands and nearly all non-tidal freshwater wetlands
have been lost, primarily due to their historical conversion to agriculture. Despite the loss of wetlands,
the region still serves as critical habitat for shorebirds, but threats, such as development, invasive
species, and sea level rise due to climate change, continue to exert pressure on the system.
Shorebirds using the Pacific Flyway are dependent upon
a network of widely spaced estuarine sites between the
Arctic and South America for wintering and migrating to
and from their breeding grounds. Shorebirds also have
exhibited long-term population declines. The lack of
broad-scale coordinated monitoring along the Pacific
Flyway limits our ability to understand the problem and
design conservation strategies to benefit shorebirds.
2013 Winter Survey
We are now getting geared up for surveys in 2013. This year, we are adding sites on Whidbey Island,
the Olympic Peninsula, South Puget Sound, and the Snohomish Estuary. We have begun to set
training and survey dates.
Training class dates
Training classes will focus on shorebird identification and counting and how surveyors can enter their
Thur. Nov. 7th, Padilla Bay Breazeale Center: 7:00 – 8:30 PM. Click here for directions
Wed. Nov 13th, Mill Creek WDFW office: 7:00 – 8:30 PM.
Address: 16018 Mill Creek Boulevard, Mill Creek, WA 98012. Directions: from I-5, take Exit 183 onto
164th Street Southeast. Continue eastbound about 1.5 miles. At the bottom of the hill, turn left onto
Mill Creek Boulevard. Look for us on the left about 1 1/2 blocks north directly across from Bank of
CLICK HERE --To see surveys dates, protocols, data forms maps, and schedule.
If you are interested in participating in this effort, please contact Gary Slater.
Why are we involved?
You can follow the status of the project on our
Funding for this project is provided by the U.S. Forest
Service International Program.