Space to Roost
Many shorebirds migrate thousands of kilometres over the ocean from their breeding areas in the Arctic to their wintering grounds in South America. Hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop for a few weeks on the shores of Nova Scotia to feed and rest before flying non-stop down south. Some of the best beaches to stock up on food before a long flight also happen to be favourite beaches for human activities like swimming, fishing, and photography.
The Space to Roost project works with coastal recreational users to reduce disturbances of shorebirds at their high tide roost sites along the Minas Basin of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. The project began in 2016, in partnership with Dalhousie University’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies, with the collection of baseline disturbance data and consultation with the local community and recreational users. Pilot testing for the Shorebird Resting Beach occurred in 2017, and involved asking beach goers to avoid visiting roosting beaches for two hours either side of high tide when Semipalmated Sandpipers are resting. Since doing this strong background work, Birds Canada staff have been working successfully each year at roost sites to help reduce disturbance for shorebirds in the Minas Basin.
The Semipalmated Sandpiper’s population has dropped by almost half since the 1970s and about 38% of the Eastern population visit the Bay of Fundy each fall. The Minas Basin is both an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) as it hosts over a million migrating shorebirds between July and August.