Supporting our Shorebirds
by Emma Reid
This week, some of our kayak guides will head down south to Grand Isle and other surrounding barrier islands to help respond to impacts on the Louisiana’s shorebird population after Tropical Storm Cindy. The storm wrecked nests of shorebirds, and many recently hatched chicks drowned because they were not yet old enough to fly away and escape flooded beaches. Biologists are currently surveying hundreds of nests along the coast and it seems that at least half of most nests and chicks were wiped out, especially the Least Terns, Wilson’s Plovers and Black Skimmers since they nest on low-lying beaches. For volunteer work, we will secure the nests that survived and chat with people on the beach to raise public awareness about why we protect these birds and what they can do to help.
Unfortunately, the issue for shorebirds in the Gulf is much greater than this isolated storm. The habitat for these birds is washing away from sea level rise, more intense storms, and coastal flooding due to climate change, so if we don’t focus on rebuilding the barrier islands many more bird populations will be at great risk. Eric Johnson with Audubon said, “There are always going to be storms and there are always going to be hurricanes, but we can make that system more resilient and make events like this less traumatic.” Recently there have been successful barrier island dredging projects that have built land, but we need more federal and state money to upkeep these areas. Spreading awareness and writing to elected officials is the best way to do this.
If you want to be a part of the solution, a great first step to help is to educate yourself and others on the issues of climate change affecting bird and other animal populations. Even if you’re not from Louisiana, climate change threatens nearly half of our bird species in America. Also, the Audubon Society is a good non-profit to donate to that does a lot of work to conserve bird populations. By signing the Audubon pledge “Birds Tell Us That We Need To Act On Climate” you will be in the loop for how to get involved and learn more about climate solutions.
For tips on writing your elected officials…