Airdate: May 03, 2007
Scientist: Mary Ann Bishop
Shorebirds: Western Sandpipers & Humans
Development along the California coastline is having an impact on Western Sandpipers and other shorebirds.
ambience: Western Sandpipers
Visit any beach along the Pacific coast and you're likely to see Western Sandpipers feeding at the edges of the shoreline. Although these birds are plentiful, they like to hang out in the same places where humans do - and that presents some potential problems. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Nesting and breeding in sub-arctic areas, like Alaska, and migrating mostly along the Pacific Coast, the Western Sandpiper's preferred habitats are beaches, mud flats, and open marshes. And it's this choice of real estate which may ultimately put these birds at risk. Mary Ann Bishop is with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station in Alaska.
"They are the most numerous bird on the Pacific coast. However, they're vulnerable - in the sense that the kinds of habitats where they spend their time are the kinds of habitat where people like to spend their time - on the beach. And so, development has taken its toll on a lot of their habitats. And what's very critical is that these birds go back to the same stopover areas year after year. The analogy that is often made with the stopover areas is that they are the links in the chain - and that, you break a link in that chain, and you make the survival much more difficult for these birds. They've got to have these areas to stop over year after year. And so many of these areas, especially in the lower 48 - so much habitat has been lost. For example, in the San Francisco bay area, tremendous amounts of habitat have been lost."
If developers of shoreline areas can keep in mind the birds' migratory habits, it's possible that humans and Western Sandpipers can share these areas together for years to come.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.