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Shorebird Studies | Point Blue

November 14, 2020
Snowy Plover nr:gy at Malibu; ringed at Vandenburg AFB 2017
(Larry Loeher 2-25-18)

[Posted by Chuck Almdale, 14 Nov 2020]

Point Blue, which used to be known as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, is involved in several birds studies of interest to SMBAS and chapter members have contributed to their work since the middle 1990’s.

One such study is the Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey. They conduct an annual census of shorebirds in eleven countries along the Pacific Coast to which citizen scientists and organizations contribute information. The surveys are timed to catch the birds when their movements are minimal, and for the two sites I do – Malibu Lagoon and Sepulveda Dam – the date window is Nov 15 – Dec 15.

They’ve put out their first paper on the results: A monitoring framework for assessing threats to nonbreeding shorebirds on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. A one-page summary of the paper is here on the Point Blue website. In the lower-right corner of that page you’ll find a link to the complete paper. Here’s a short extract:

With over 40 partner organizations, we counted birds annually at 84 critical wetland sites between Canada and Chile. In each of the first three annual surveys from 2013/14 to 2015/16, we counted ~1 million shorebirds of 44 species, including five species for which >20% of their population was recorded annually, and nine additional species with >5% recorded. Results highlighted new areas of importance for shorebirds including Delta del Rio Estero Real in Nicaragua which supports 20% of the population of Wilson’s Plovers.


Another study of theirs is the Snowy Plover censusing project, which undoubtedly has some long official title but that’s what I call it. Various SMBAS members have collected data on at least five winter roosting sites, especially Zuma Beach, Malibu Lagoon and Santa Monica Beach, since the mid-1990’s.

Point Blue issued a free report on our favorite shorebird in June 2020: Assessing Accuracy of Sampling Schemes to Estimate Western Snowy Plover Reproductive Success. They also have a one-page summary here of this paper. Here’s a snippet:

These results are useful for designing a sampling scheme within a monitoring plan that is needed to meet a desired level of accuracy. For example, by monitoring nests hatching only on weekdays (equivalent to 71% of sampling effort), fledge rate estimates would typically be within 8.5% of the actual value. At 50% of sampling effort (the current target in Monterey Bay), fledge rate estimates would typically be within 13.4% ofthe actual value.

Anyone who is, has been or might want to be a Snowy Plover monitor will be interested in this.


Additionally, Point Blue has a very large database, accessible by the public, of more than 2,000 technical reports and peer reviewed scientific articles. About this they say:

We use these findings to address real-world challenges, working hand-in-hand with land, ocean, and wildlife managers to improve conservation outcomes.

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