Volunteers needed for shorebird monitoring

Piping Plover on a Long Island Sound beach. Connecticut Audubon Society photo by Sean Graesser

January 31, 2017 – Piping Plovers and other coastal birds will be arriving in Connecticut in March. The Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds is recruiting volunteer monitors and stewards who are interested in spending their days at the beach protecting this federally-threatened species.

Monitoring and stewardship starts in early April and last until late August. The project includes not just Piping Plovers but American Oystercatchers and Least and Common Terns.

This training session is co-sponsored by the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds (the Connecticut Audubon Society, Audubon Connecticut, and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History) and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Training and orientation session for new volunteers will be held Saturday, March 4 (snow date March 5) from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Audubon Connecticut Office at Stratford Point, 1207 Prospect Drive, Stratford.

Past volunteers will be offered a refresher from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

The sessions will review biology of the Piping Plover, how to monitor breeding pairs and chicks, volunteer organization and logistics, and law enforcement information.

There are changes to the process this year and attendance by everyone planning to participate in 2017 is important.

Atlantic Coast populations of Piping Plovers return to the Connecticut coast in March from their wintering grounds on the Gulf Coast and Caribbean. Their cryptic nests are extremely susceptible to human disturbance, predation, and tidal wash outs.

Volunteers work at locations across the Connecticut shore to observe the birds, record and report nesting data, and educate the beach-going public about the monitoring program.

Volunteers work four-hour shifts from April until the end of the breeding season (usually in August) and must donate a minimum of four hours per month. The work can be very rewarding, as volunteers will have the opportunity to improve nesting success for threatened shorebirds across the state.

For more information on the training session or for directions, please email the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds at ctwaterbirds@gmail.com.  Reservations are not required; but an email letting us know you will be attending is appreciated.

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