Friday, February 27, 2015

Banded American Oystercatcher in Florida

Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History President Twan Leenders recently returned from Bradenton, Florida where he was attending RTPI board meetings. In between sessions he made sure to find an hour or two for some bird surveys, especially targeting species relevant to active RTPI conservation projects. Our work as a partner in the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds has us focused on the terns, long-legged waders and threatened shorebirds like the American Oystercatcher seen here.

Did you happen to notice the silver federal band on the bird’s right leg? This would be very difficult to read, even with binoculars or a scope, but thankfully this individual has a special color band on its left leg.

The yellow band has black characters on it that say “38” and are separated by a dot with the “38” repeating for better visibility. The American Oystercatcher Working Group website has a photo gallery list of bands that are used on the species in different states, and as you can see Massachusetts is a match.

This bird was banded in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 2008! It has been recorded in the spring and summer breeding seasons over multiple years in Martha’s Vineyard, the famous Massachusetts island to the south of Cape Cod. During the wintering season it has been seen repeatedly over the years in areas across Manatee County, including Anna Maria Island. It definitely needs to be discovered, recorded and entered in migration so that we can see where it spends its time feeding and refueling during Florida to Masschusetts trips like the one coming up…now! It should be migrating north on any day at this point, if it is not already on the move, and New England usually starts to see its first bold birds returning in late February.

Considering the unbelievably historically cold and snowy conditions that have occurred in the past month in the Northeast region, with many locations suffering through the coldest month ever recorded, I would have to think they will be arriving a bit later this year. Nevertheless, once we hit mid-March they will be moving in with strong numbers and the climate will finally yield. Please report any banded bird you can at reportband.gov or on specific project websites for certain species like this one. If you ever have questions about where to report a banded waterbird like this one or need some assistance please feel free to email us at the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds at ctwaterbirds@gmail.com. Please stay on the lookout for various banded and flagged Piping Plovers, too. I just hope to find this bird on a beach in Connecticut in the next few weeks!

Scott Kruitbosch
RTPI Conservation & Outreach Coordinator
AAfCW Volunteer Coordinator

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

WildLife Guard Crew Leader Summer Job Openings

In 2014, Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Pleasure Beach reopened to the public after nearly 20 years. The barrier beach is home to the federally threatened Piping Plover and state threatened Least Tern, among other imperiled waterbirds, as well as four state endangered plant species. To ensure that these birds have the opportunity to nest successfully and to maintain the barrier beach, a rare habitat in Connecticut, Audubon Connecticut created the WildLife Guards Program. The program trains, mentors, and employs 10 local high schools students and 2 crew leaders to monitor nesting birds and engage visitors, families, and friends about Pleasure Beach and its wildlife.

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, in partnership with Audubon Connecticut and the City of Bridgeport, is seeking 2 qualified individuals to serve as crew leaders. The crew leaders would supervise and train the 10 WildLife Guards (high school students) in their daily activities. Please see the linked position description in full for more information, essential functions, qualifications and experience, and how to apply: http://rtpi.org/wildlife-guard-crew-leader-summer-job-openings/

This is a great opportunity for college students or recent graduates to gain experience in biological field work, conservation management, education and public outreach this summer. Please pass this posting along to anyone you feel would be a good fit – thank you!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Volunteers Needed for Shorebird Monitoring 2015

United States Department of the Interior


Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge
733 Old Clinton Road
Westbrook, Connecticut 06498-1030
Phone: 860-399-2513 Fax: 860-399-2515


NEWS RELEASE                                                      

To be Released: Immediately                    Contact: Shaun Roche
                 Phone: (860) 399-2513

Subject:  Volunteers Needed for Shorebird Monitoring

Spend your summer days at the beach and help protect a federally threatened species! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are seeking volunteers to monitor piping plovers and other shorebirds from early April until late August at beaches across our state.  A training and orientation session for new volunteers will be held on Saturday, March 14th 2015 from 10:30am to 12:00noon at Stratford Point, 1207 Prospect Drive, Stratford, CT 06615; past volunteers will be offered a refresher from 9:00am to 10:15am.  The sessions will review the following: biology of the piping plover, how to monitor breeding pairs and chicks, volunteer organization and logistics, and law enforcement information.

Atlantic Coast populations of piping plovers return to the Connecticut coast in March from their wintering grounds on the Gulf Coast and Caribbean.  The cryptic nests of the piping plover are extremely susceptible to human disturbance, predation, and tidal wash outs. To enhance the survival and productivity of birds breeding in Connecticut, an annual monitoring partnership is cooperatively sponsored by Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Audubon Connecticut, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History and The Nature Conservancy.

Working at locations across coastal Connecticut, our volunteers observe the shorebirds, record and report nesting data, and educate the beach-going public about the monitoring program. Volunteers work 4 hour shifts from April until the end of the breeding season (usually in August) and must donate a minimum of 4 hours per month. The work can be very rewarding, as volunteers will have the opportunity to positively impact nesting success for threatened shorebirds across the state.

For more information on the training session or for directions, please email USFWS Visitor Services Manager Shaun Roche at shaun_roche@fws.gov.  Reservations are not required; but an e-mail letting us know you will be attending is appreciated. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Share Connecticut eBird Checklists!

Do you live in Connecticut or have you visited the Nutmeg state to bird thus far in 2015? If you entered your sightings into eBird and they included ANY shorebirds, terns, or long-legged waders like this Snowy Egret please share your eBird checklists with us at the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds using the eBird share function and our email address: ctwaterbirds@gmail.com.

This will allow us to learn more about our various target species in multiple ways including habitat and site selection, abundance, distribution, migratory, wintering, and breeding ecology and more. These checklists with vital conservation-priority species also assist in the identification and certification of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for the National Audubon Society. Please share checklists in this manner throughout all of 2015 – thank you!