Target: Lindsay Addison, coastal biologist for Audubon North Carolina
Goal: Commend research on the migratory patterns of the American Oystercatcher, which aids in the conservation of this shorebird.
Wildlife biologists in North Carolina are working to tag and track American Oystercatchers, in order to gather better information about this small shorebird’s migratory patterns. Researchers from Audubon North Carolina and North Carolina State University have been trapping oystercatchers along the shore and outfitting them with small satellite tracking devices, then releasing them back into the wild. Tracking these fascinating shorebirds will help reveal details about their seasonal routes and how long it takes them to complete their journeys. Conservationists want to know about oystercatchers’ migratory routes and sites where they stop to rest and eat, so that we can make these areas safe for them.
American Oystercatchers are black and white birds with striking red beaks and eyes. As their name suggests, they eat mollusks including oysters, clams, and mussels. They use their long, sharp beaks to pry open shellfish. In the past, human actions such as egg collecting, hunting, and intrusion have endangered the survival of this species. Although their population is considered stable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List inventory, their numbers are well below the historic population. Human encroachment is still a threat to these shy birds, particularly on sensitive breeding grounds. Because of their vulnerability, oystercatchers are a Federal Species of Interest.
Oystercatchers are important birds to study because they are a good indicator species for determining how natural space is being managed. The shorebirds are prone to human and introduced predator disturbance because they nest on the open beach just above the high water mark. Habitat loss from development or coastal erosion is the main threat to the survival of oystercatchers.
Six adult birds have been outfitted with small satellite tracking devices to determine their locations, as part of the research program. The public will able to follow the movements of the oystercatchers by visiting oystercatchertracking.org which will provide information about whether the nests of the study subjects succeed and when their chicks fledge. Please sign this petition to commend the innovative conservation research of these wildlife biologists.
Dear Lindsay Addison,
I would like to commend you and your research team for aiding in the conservation of American Oystercatchers by investigating their migratory patterns. Knowing more about the routes and resting sites of these unique birds can help us protect their vulnerable populations from anthropogenic disturbances caused by development, introduced predators, and intrusive beach use. By utilizing satellite tagging and tracking in your research methods, we will finally get to see what goes on during the oystercatchers’ journeys to their wintering and breeding sites.
Allowing the public to follow the oystercatchers that were tagged and tracked on your website, and providing information about the study subjects’ lives, has the potential to engage a broader audience in the conservation of shorebirds. Familiarizing the public with fascinating details about the mysterious behavior of wildlife fosters respect and interest in protecting these creatures and their environment so that we can continue to enjoy them in nature. Thank you for focusing your efforts on oystercatchers, and please continue to employ innovative research methods that apply to the conservation of wildlife species.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: bkushner via Flickr