Shorebirds are remarkable long-distance migrants that span the hemisphere each year. Many species are in serious decline, and conservation action is urgently needed to ensure that their populations persist. The Shorebird Research Group aims to guide that conservation action toward the most pressing issues by providing sound scientific information about what is causing the declines.
A spreadsheet showing the status of Shorebirds of Conservation Concern for the Western Hemisphere is available from the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network by clicking here. (updated 15 February 2007). Criteria used are: a) small population size; b) known or suspected population declines; c) habitat loss or high threat of such loss; and in a few cases, severe gaps in knowledge.
Annual migrations to breeding
grounds in the Americas are made along routes known as
flyways. The major flyways are the Pacific, Central, and
Atlantic flyways. The most numerous species is the
woodcock with an estimated population of 5 million birds
(Morrison et al. 2001). Semipalmated and Western
Sandpipers each have an estimated 3.5 million individuals.
The three phalaropes, Killdeer, and Wilsonís snipe have
between 1 and 2.5 million individuals. All other species
have fewer than a million birds in North America. Among
the least abundant are the Mountain Plover (9000), Black
Oystercatcher (8900), Wilsonís Plover (6000), Piping
Plover (5800), American Oystercatcher (3600) and
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (3000). The Eskimo Curlew is the
only species that is likely extinct.
species are considered highly imperiled: Piping Plover,
Mountain Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Buff-breasted
Sandpiper, North American populations of Snowy Plover,
Black-necked Stilt (knudseni
subspecies) and Red Knot (rufa subspecies)
(Table 1). Twenty-one species are considered of High
Concern in North America.
The conservation status of shorebirds in South America is poorly understood, and better information on the status, population size, threats, and appropriate conservation actions for South American Species is a very high priority.