Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

WHSRNews: 25 February 2010 (in full)

In this issue: 25 February 2010

  • New WHSRN Species Conservation Plan Available: Buff-breasted Sandpiper
  • Panama Hosts Annual Meeting of WHSRN Hemispheric Council
  • Four New WHSRN Sites Designated
  • Government and Business Collaborate Internationally for Red Knot Surveys in Chile
  • Shorebird Conservation Planning for Chiloé Island, Chile
  • Guidance on Effective Shorebird Monitoring Available from PRISM
  • Reminder: Pablo Canevari Award Nominations due 15 March 2010


New WHSRN Species Conservation Plan Available: Buff-breasted Sandpiper

In response to the conservation priorities established in the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, the WHSRN Executive Office is working with shorebird experts in partner organizations to develop action-oriented Species Conservation Plans. In December 2009, we completed the Conservation Plan for the Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis), thanks to the dedicated efforts of our expert authors in North and South America and to support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, University of Nevada Reno, Wetlands International, and the Grasslands Alliance.

A male Buff-breasted Sandpiper hopes to attract a female with an impressive double-wing display. / © Kevin Karlson

This peer-reviewed, 113-page plan summarizes what is known to date about Buff-breasted Sandpiper ecology, status and population, habitat needs, threats, and important sites throughout the hemisphere. It also identifies and prioritizes conservation actions needed in the short term to stop or reverse the species’s population decline for the long term.

Our sincere thanks go to lead author Rick Lanctot (USFWS-Alaska) and fellow co-authors Joaquín Aldabe (Uruguay), Juliana Bosi de Almeida (Brazil), Daniel Blanco (Argentina), Juan Pablo Isacch (Argentina), Joel Jorgensen (Nebraska, USA), Sherri Norland (North Dakota, USA), Pablo Rocca (Uruguay), and Khara Strum (California, USA). We also want to thank the many shorebird biologists and conservation partners who contributed their data and/or comments during the development of this plan.

Please visit the WHSRN Species Conservation Plan webpage to view or download this and other plans. 



Panama Hosts Annual Meeting of WHSRN Hemispheric Council

During their site visit to the Upper Bay of Panama, Council members experienced first-hand the proximity of this important resource to the country’s capital and most populated urban center, Panama City. / © Karl Kaufmann

The WHSRN Hemispheric Council and the Waterbird Conservation Council were able to coordinate their annual meetings again to accommodate colleagues who serve on both councils. The meetings were held consecutively during the first week of February, in Panama City, with a joint site visit midweek by the two councils to the Upper Bay of Panama—a WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance, Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, and a National Protected Area. Highlights of the WHSRN Council meeting will be compiled and distributed in the next issue of WHSRNews.

In the meantime, we would like to recognize the tremendous efforts and energy of our local hosts, Panama Audubon Society and Ramsar’s Regional Wetlands Center (Ramsar-CREHO, by its Spanish acronym). Our thanks especially to the leaders of these two groups, Rosabel Miró and Rosa Montañez, respectively. We are also grateful to Waterbird Council coordinator Jennifer Wheeler (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and to Xico Vega (Manomet/WHSRN) for helping to coordinate the array of logistics involved for each council. Special thanks to Ms. Bea Roy, member of Manomet’s Board of Trustees, for her generous hospitality in inviting both councils’ members to her apartment in the city for a reception on the building’s 51st floor!

During the WHSRN Council meeting, Rob Clay (BirdLife International) gave a special presentation on the hemispheric importance of Panama Bay to migratory shorebirds. / © Karl Kaufmann

At this time we would also like to acknowledge the significant leadership and contributions of Marshall Jones as WHSRN Council Chair. This January marked the close of his 3-year term. We are grateful for the strategic and sound guidance that his breadth of experience in wildlife conservation and governing brought to the Council and the work of WHSRN. Thank you, and best wishes to you, Marshall!

Last but not least, we want to recognize our long-time WHSRN partner and valued colleague, Ian Davidson, Executive Director of Nature Canada. Ian agreed to serve as Interim Chair prior to the annual meeting, with the possibility of continuing on as Chair for the full 3-year term. Thank you, Ian, for your dedication and leadership.


Four New WHSRN Sites Designated

At the annual WHSRN Hemispheric Council meeting held this month in Panama (see related article in this issue), the Council approved the nominations of four new WHSRN sites—including the first one in the Caribbean region. We enthusiastically welcome all four sites and the many partners supporting them. Their designations expand the Network to a total of 81 sites in 12 countries and more than 29.5 million acres (12 million hectares) of shorebird habitat. Below are brief descriptions and the locations of each site, from north to south. These four new sites are also featured on the “Selected Sites” map on our homepage.

Puerto Rico: Cabo Rojo Salt Flats  
Cabo Rojo Salt Flats is the first WHSRN site in the Caribbean! This 505-hectare (1,249-acre) site is an area of saline lagoons, salt flats, and mangrove swamps within the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Puerto Rico. The refuge is owned, protected, and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Puerto Rican Ornithological Society (SOPI, by its Spanish acronym) nominated the site with the Service’s support and is an active partner in bird conservation at the refuge. The salt flats section of the refuge qualifies as a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance for supporting 5.3% (80 individuals) of the world population of the tenuirostris subspecies of Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and 2.5% (151 individuals) of the world population of Wilson’s Plover (C. wilsonia). This site, which is also an Important Bird Area, hosts a total of 28 shorebird species.

Mexico: Lago de Cuitzeo
The 44,000-hectare (109,000-acre) Lago de Cuitzeo is located in central Mexico, in the State of Michoacán and in part of the adjacent State of Guanajuato. The Mexican Network of Rural Forestry Organizations (Red MOCAF in Spanish) nominated the site with the support of the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP, by its Spanish acronym), which owns and manages this federally protected lake. Lago de Cuitzeo supports 21,500 shorebirds representing 20 species, including 1.5% of the world population of Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus), qualifying it as a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance. Other species recorded in high numbers at the lake include American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana), Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor), and Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrines).

Peru: Manglares de San Pedro de Vice
The 3,013-hectare (7,300-acre) Manglares [Mangroves] de San Pedro de Vice are located on the northern coast of Peru, in the Municipality of Vice. The mayor of Vice and the Neotropical Wetland Training Center of Peru nominated the mangroves as a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance, with the support of the federal Ministry of Environment and the regional Government of Piura. The site supports more than 1% of the world population of Sanderling, (Calidris alba) as well as 23 other shorebird species, including American Oystercatcher, (Haematopus palliatus), American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica), Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), Wilson’s Plover(Ch. wilsonia), Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica), Whimbrel, (Numenius phaeopus), Red Knot (Calidris canutus), Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri),and Semipalmated Sandpiper (C. pusilla). The Manglares de San Pedro de Vice site was also designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.

The partners’ press release is available (PDF, in Spanish) in the WHSRN Press Room.

Chile: Humedal del Río Lluta
The 31-hectare (76-acre) Humedal del Río Lluta [Lluta River Wetland] in northernmost Chile is a Municipal Natural Reserve as well as a federal Natural Sanctuary. Located in one of the most arid regions of the country, this wetland is an important resource to 130 bird species. The Technological University of Chile nominated the wetland as a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance, with the support of the mayor of the Municipality of Arica. The site hosts more than 20,000 shorebirds, including 1.4% of the Sanderling (Calidris alba) and 1.8% of the Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) populations wintering in the area. The site also hosts two South American endemic shorebird species: Peruvian Thick-knee (Burhinus superciliaris) and White-backed Stilt (Himantopus melanurus).

The partners’ press release is available (PDF, in Spanish) in the WHSRN Press Room.



Government and Business Collaborate Internationally for Red Knot Surveys in Chile

Bahía Lomas / © Diego Luna Quevedo

In January, Chile's national petroleum company, ENAP (its Spanish acronym), in partnership with Environment Canada and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, facilitated aerial monitoring of the rufa subspecies of Red Knot (Calidris canutus) at Bahía Lomas by Canadian and Chilean shorebird scientists. Bahía Lomas, a WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance, is located near the mouth of the Straits of Magellan on the northeast coast of Tierra del Fuego. It is the primary wintering site for the majority of the world’s rapidly declining population of rufa Red Knots.

In Canada, the population of rufa that winters in Tierra del Fuego has been designated as Endangered, a precursor to federal listing; in the United States, the rufa subspecies is a candidate for listing as federally Endangered. The subspecies has already been listed as Endangered in Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS, or Bonn Convention), at Argentina’s urging. 

Red Knots (Calidris canutus rufa) / © Patricia González

Guy Morrison (Environment Canada’s National Wildlife Research Centre) and Chilean biologist, Ricardo Matus, gathered important data on the rufa population thanks to ENAP, who generously provided them with meals, accommodations, and the company helicopter and pilot. With this support, Morrison and Matus were able to conduct aerial surveys over the 150,000-acre (58,946-hectare) bay. Aerial surveys on the wintering areas are the most effective method to ascertain population status and determine whether conservation measures are leading to recovery of the population. Preliminary results in 2010 suggest the population remains at a low level and no significant recovery has yet occurred. 

The partners’ press release, which received considerable coverage by Chilean news media, is available (PDF, in Spanish) in the WHSRN Press Room.

or more information, please contact Diego Luna Quevedo (diego.luna@manomet.org), Southern Cone Programs Coordinator, Shorebird Recovery Project, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.


Shorebird Conservation Planning for Chiloé Island, Chile

Diego Luna Quevedo (Manomet) discussed WHSRN shorebird conservation tools with workshop participants. / © Claudia Delgado

The first-ever workshop on shorebird conservation planning for Chiloé Island took place in Castro, the capital of Chiloé Province in Chilean Patagonia, from 27–29 January. The objective of the workshop was to develop the basis of a conservation plan for shorebirds and their key habitats, using the Conservation Area Planning methodology established by The Nature Conservancy. 

Chiloé Island supports up to 40% of the world’s population of Hudsonian Godwits (Limosa haemastica) and up to 37% of the population of Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) breeding in North America, making it one of the most important places in the world for these two species.

The workshop was attended by 20 conservationists and researchers from throughout Chile and the United States, several of whom gave presentations about management and research in the area. These presentations provided participants with key information about the value of and current context surrounding the most important sites on Chiloé. Participants also developed various models and working groups for carrying out a viability analysis, identified threats, and discussed short- and medium-term conservation action strategies. 

Experts from Chile and the United States gathered in Castro, Chile, for the first-ever workshop on shorebird conservation planning for Chiloé Island. / © Claudia Delgado

One of the outcomes expected from this planning process is to nominate the “Eastern Estuaries of Chiloé” as a WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance and incorporate it into international shorebird conservation strategies.

The workshop was part of a larger initiative being implemented through an alliance of institutions including The Nature Conservancy, WHSRN, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Their efforts are supported locally by Chile’s National Environment Commission (CONAMA by its Spanish acronym) and with funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.



For more information, contact Diego Luna Quevedo (diego.luna@manomet.org), Southern Cone Programs Coordinator, Shorebird Recovery Project, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.


Guidance on Effective Shorebird Monitoring Available from PRISM

Shorebird flock, Panama Bay. / © Karl Kaufmann

The Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (PRISM) was developed to provide a framework for shorebird monitoring in North America. In December 2009, the PRISM Steering Committee published the document, “Guidance for Developing and Implementing Effective Shorebird Surveys," to give general guidance on conducting shorebird monitoring, with a primary focus on counts of individuals or flocks. This informative 15-page guide builds on a variety of past publications about shorebird monitoring as well as incorporates the ideas and work carried out by committee members. The document addresses three categories of monitoring: casual data contribution, protocol-based programs, and designed surveys.

Shorebird Monitoring Guidance (PDF, 120 KB)

For more information, please contact Brad Andres (brad_andres@fws.gov), National Shorebird Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.



Reminder: Pablo Canevari Award Nominations due 15 March 2010

Pablo Canevari 
Pablo Canevari

Every two years, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences presents an award of US$2,000 to an individual or organization from Latin America that demonstrates an outstanding commitment to shorebird conservation – much the way Pablo Canevari did until his sudden death in 2000. Pablo, a former WHSRN Director, is remembered for his extraordinary dedication to and passion for the conservation of shorebirds throughout his career and life. Likewise, the Award in his honor recognizes and supports exemplary work in the field of shorebird conservation.

As we mentioned in our December 2009 issue, nominations of an individual or organization for the 2010 Award are due no later than 15 March 2010. The winner will be announced in mid-April. For a nomination form and to learn more about Pablo and the current and previous Award winners, please visit our Canevari Award webpage.