‘World Shorebirds Day’ Names Piping Plover 2016 ‘Shorebird of the Year’
In its 30th year of protection under the Endangered Species Act, the piping plover was named “Shorebird of the Year” for 2016 via a poll held by the organization World Shorebirds Day. Each year on Sept. 6, the group celebrates these avian species with the results of its online survey, and, additionally, runs a global shorebird counting program to “raise awareness about the importance of regular bird monitoring/counting as the core element of protection of bird populations and habitat conservation.”
Polling for “Shorebird of the Year” opened in July, on worldshorebirdsday.wordpress.com, and although the hooded plover led the contest for the first couple of months, “voters made a difference in the last 10 days and pushed piping plover (Charadrius melodus) to the top of the list by over 100 votes,” with a total of 25.08 percent, the group noted.
Spoon-billed sandpipers (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) took the top honor in 2014, followed by the red knot (Calidris canutus) last year.
The “charismatic” piping plover – which is monitored on the south end of Long Beach Island, in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Holgate – “is a globally threatened shorebird (for) which both breeding and wintering range is restricted to North America,” the group explained. “After serious population decline in the 19th century, it slowly recovered in the 20th century. In the last few decades it all went wrong again as a result of extreme pressure of coastal development and other anthropogenic effects.”
“Although recovery has been a difficult road here in New Jersey, with periodic gains offset by losses, we are currently experiencing an upwards trend,” according to Conserve Wildlife Foundation of N.J. “Furthermore, thanks to the dedicated conservation efforts by many partners and the cooperation of beachgoers, the piping plover has more than doubled its population along the Atlantic Coast since it was listed in 1986.”
World Shorebirds Day will celebrate the piping plover throughout the year with a dedicated webpage and focused fundraising efforts. Visit worldshorebirdsday.wordpress.com for more information. —J.K.-H.