Protecting the Beaches for Birds: Shorebird Stewarding

by Allison Anholt, Research Scientist


Taylor Tedesco, Beach Steward

Coastal birds such as piping plovers, American oystercatchers, terns, skimmers, and many migratory species of shorebirds use our local beaches in order to roost, forage, and raise young. Disturbance by beach-goers can affect birds by causing them to expend energy that they should be using to feed, rest, incubate eggs, raise young, or defend against predators. In order to protect these birds, many beaches have restricted access during nesting and migration.

This summer The Wetlands Institute organized shorebird stewards to help protect shorebirds at Stone Harbor Point and the Two Mile Beach Unit of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. Stewards perform an important job. They watch over the birds, prevent disturbance by beach-goers, and talk to the public about the importance of beach habitats.

Stewards also record instances of disturbance in order to understand how our actions impact birds. This program has been positive for stewards and the public alike, and has greatly contributed to our understanding of issues facing coastal birds in our area.