Protecting shorebirds in Ensenada
Objective: protect migratory shorebirds in the Bahía de Todos Santos Shorebird Reserve, in Ensenada, Baja California.
Species of interest: shorebirds, mainly the snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus).
Coordinator: Jonathan Vargas, Bird Conservation Projects Associate at Terra Peninsular and one of the six fellows of the Class of 2019 of the Coastal Solution Fellows Program, an initiative of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
About the snowy plover
The snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) is a small shorebird that nests between April and August on the sandy beaches of Ensenada, mainly in Playa Hermosa and Estero de Punta Banda.
The nesting season coincides with the summer vacations, therefore, the snowy plovers face many threats: they are chased by unleashed dogs and the nests are crushed by vehicles and people.
The Pacific coast population of the snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) has been declining over the past years, mainly due to the loss of habitat and disturbances caused by urban development.
The snowy plover is listed as an endangered species in Mexico and the United States, that means, more likely to go extinct in the future. This bird is legally protected by the Official Mexican Standard 059.
This project began in 2018 with the campaign named La playa es de todos, which means, the beach belongs to everyone. Thanks to the Coastal Solutions Fellows Program and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Terra Peninsular will follow up with a program to protect the snowy plover in Bahía de Todos Santos in 2019 and 2020.
Objectives of the project
- Promote a regulation to control illegal vehicles on the beach, this will benefit shorebirds and beach users.
- Increase the reproductive success of the snowy plover between April and August.
- Involve the citizens to protect shorebirds and their habitats.
Importance of Ensenada for migratory shorebirds
Bahía de Todos Santos is the 99th site of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), an international strategy to conserve and protect the habitat of the shorebirds in the American continent.
- During spring and summer, bird species like the snowy plover and the least tern nest on the sandy beaches of Ensenada.
- During fall and winter, the bay is a stopover site used by birds to feed and rest during migration, they need these sites to recover energy and continue their journey.
Threats to birds
- Vehicles and ATVs on the beach.
- Climate change.
- Loss of habitat.
- Unleashed dogs that chase shorebirds.
- Feral dogs and cats that eat the chicks.
As part of this project, different activities will be carry out:
- Promote the importance of shorebirds. We can share the beach!
- Monitoring the nests.
- Control of predators.
- Environmental education to raise awareness.
- Installing seasonal protective fencing on nesting areas on the beach in front of Pacífica at Ensenada Bay and Estero de Punta Banda.
How to help?
- Avoid disturbing birds and use binoculars to appreciate them from a distance.
- Walk your dog on a leash and away from birds (at least 90 feet away). When dogs chase birds and cause them to fly away, they lose energy that is necessary to take care of their nests and find food.
- Do not drive vehicles on the beach, you could go right through a nesting area causing serious damage.
- Do not remove seaweeds from the beach. They provide protection and food for birds.
- Do not litter. Help keep the beach clean.
- Fly your kites and play frisbee near the water and away from the dunes.
Citizen science events
- Great Backyard Bird Count.
- Global Big Day (May 4).
- Conteo Nacional de Aves Urbanas (July 12, 13 and 14).
- World Shorebirds Day.
- Global Shorebirds Count.
- World Migratory Bird Day.
- Christmas Bird Count.