Shorebird Research Group of the Americas


Shorebird Research Group of the Americas



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.
Seven 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.



Table 1. List of high priority shorebird species/populations in the United States (US Shorebird Conservation Plan 2004)


Highly Imperiled

Piping Plover

Mountain Plover

Long-billed Curlew

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

North American populations

Snowy Plover

Black-necked Stilt (Hawaiian population)

Red Knot (Canadian Arctic-Atlantic Coast population)

High Concern

American Golden-Plover

Black Oystercatcher

Solitary Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Bristle-thighed Curlew

Hudsonian Godwit

Marbled Godwit


High Concern

Black Turnstone


Western Sandpiper

Rock Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

American Woodcock

Wilson's Phalarope

North American populations

Wilson's Plover

American Oystercatcher


Bar-tailed Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Red Knot (populations other than Canadian Arctic-Atlantic Coast population)


Dunlin (Alaska-East Asian and Alaska-Pacific Coast populations)