GoMAMN Newsletter: Issue 4
Greetings from the GoMAMN Coordination Committee! This is the fourth issue of the GoMAMN newsletter, which is distributed on a quarterly basis. The purpose of this newsletter is to share information about the Network and ongoing monitoring projects, along with news and opportunities relevant to our work as we collectively strive to advance bird conservation along the Gulf of Mexico.
Team Member Spotlight: David Newstead
David is currently the Director of the Coastal Bird Program for the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program based on Corpus Cristi, TX. The Bird Program consists of four staff, and their primary activities are habitat management of colonial waterbird nesting islands in Texas, monitoring nesting success and populations of migratory shorebirds and waterbirds, and engaging in research directed towards addressing conservation challenges for birds along the Gulf Coast.
In this interview, David talks about his life, including how he grew up surfing and his deep love for all things bird-related. He is particularly interested in integrating studies of prey dynamics (such as fisheries data) to better understand to what extent this drives population dynamics of coastal birds. If you want to win him over, just feed him some boudin sausage.
Monitoring Project Highlight: Texas Shorebird Habitat and Stewardship Program
Authored by Kacy Ray, Gulf Coastal Program Manager at American Bird Conservancy
The Texas Shorebird Habitat and Stewardship Program is a collaborative effort, led by American Bird Conservancy, with collaborative partners Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Houston Audubon Society, and Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program. The purpose of this program is to promote conservation of mainland coastal birds through maintaining, or ideally, increasing nesting success, fledge output, and long-term survival, as well as to protect habitat year-round to ensure successful reproduction, migration, and over-wintering for our focal species. During the breeding season, the group focuses their on-the-ground conservation efforts on Snowy and Wilson’s Plovers, Least Terns (seabird), and Black Skimmers (seabird). During the nonbreeding season, they focus efforts on Piping Plovers, Red Knots, Snowy Plovers, and Black Skimmers. The group has a three-pronged approach which includes 1) protect habitat, 2) monitor focal species, and 3) stewardship and education with land managers and the general public.
Paper Highlight: “Breeding ecology and habitat use of North America’s rarest Ardeidae: the Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens“
by Koczur, L.M., B.M. Ballard, M.C. Green, D.G. Hewitt and S.E. Henke
Take-Home Messages by Clay Green:
• The authors used GPS trackers to follow 28 Reddish Egrets near Padre Island, TX to study breeding season ecology
• All of the tracked Reddish Egrets flew an average of 15 km (9.3 miles) from their nest site to foraging sites, and the amount of foraging habitat surrounding a colony was a good predictor of the number of breeding pairs at that colony.
• Reddish Egrets are very active when they forage, often running after their prey, and need open shallow water to do so
• The results of this study provide information on the habitat requirements for Reddish Egrets and the need to protect those habitats.
Koczur, L.M., B.M. Ballard, M.C. Green, D.G. Hewitt and S.E. Henke. 2018. Breeding ecology and habitat use of North America’s rarest ardeidae: the Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens. Avian Conservation and Ecology 13:10.
The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group has released its Final Phase 2 Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #1.1: Queen Bess Island Restoration. The preferred alternative would create 30 acres of brown pelican habitat and 7 acres of tern and skimmer habitat at a cost of $18.71 million. The project will go to construction in September 2019 and is expected to be completed around February 2020.
Audubon recommends an investment of more than $1.7 billion in restoration and conservation from south Texas to Florida Keys.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the eastern black rail as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. About the size of a beignet with red eyes and gunmetal gray feathers, black rails once ranged across salt and freshwater wetlands along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, but these habitats have been disappearing under growing cities and farms. Sea level rise and Louisiana’s coastal land loss crisis pose new challenges for the bird.
Using weather radar to study North American bird migrations, researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology made a surprising discovery: birds leaving the United States on long, hazardous journeys to the tropics each fall actually survive better than those making shorter flights to cooler climes closer by. This study was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
A new study combining data from citizen scientists and weather radar stations is providing detailed insights into spring bird migration along the Gulf of Mexico and how these journeys may be affected by climate change. Findings on the timing, location, and intensity of these bird movements are published in the journal Global Change Biology.
In the push and shove of the food chain, two bird species on Georgia’s coast received help from researchers who prevented coyotes and raccoons from eating nesting birds, their eggs and hatchlings.
Climate change may be the main reason behind a great decline in shorebird populations around the world, researchers found. After looking at 38,191 nests of 111 species across the world, the team found that rates of daily nest predation in the Arctic, in particular, have increased threefold in the last 70 years.
Researchers found the Sea Around Us and the French National Center for Scientific Research found that between 1970 and 2010, annual seabird food consumption decreased from 70 million tons to 57 million tons. Meanwhile, fishing vessels increased their catches of potential seabird prey from an average of 59 million tons in the 1970s and ’80s to 65 million tons per year in recent years.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) established the National Coastal Resilience Fund with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Shell Oil Company and TransRe. NFWF recently announced the first thirty-five grants for this new fund with investments totaling $28.93 million. The National Coastal Resilience Fund focuses on implementing projects that will have the greatest benefit to both human community resilience and fish and wildlife benefit. Awards were made in coastal communities across the country, including communities in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.
Projects related to GoMAMN include:
1) Habitat Restoration of Crab Bank Island Seabird Sanctuary to Protect Coastal Shorelines (SC) Grantee: Audubon South Carolina Grant Amount: $2,451,226
Restore Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary, a critical nesting island in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Project will protect 1.5 miles of coastal property and provide 28 acres of suitable nesting habitat for the brown pelican, royal tern, black skimmer, American oystercatcher and other seabird and shorebird species.
2) Terrebonne Basin Coastal Wetland Habitat Restoration and Community Resiliency (LA) Grantee: Ducks Unlimited Grant Amount: $3,410,000
Restore 575 acres of coastal wetlands in the Terrebonne Basin, Louisiana. Project will prevent additional wetland erosion and provide storm surge protection for the Golden Meadow, Pointe aux Chene, and Isle de Jean Charles communities
3) Dollar Bay-Moses Lake Wetlands Restoration and Protection to Reduce Erosion (TX) Grantee: Galveston Bay Foundation Grant Amount: $2,050,000
Restore degraded wetlands and protect vulnerable shorelines and communities within the Dollar Bay-Moses Lake complex in Galveston Bay, Texas. Project will restore 72 acres of intertidal marsh habitat to address the loss of habitat in Galveston Bay due to historical land surface subsidence and shoreline erosion.
Gulf of Mexico Alliance All Hands Meeting
June 10-13, 2019 in Gulf Shores, AL
The notice requests proposals for special projects and programs associated with NOAA’s strategic plan and mission goals. The deadline for nomination is May 15, 2019.
Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded in support of plant, animal, and fungi species conservation efforts without discrimination on the basis of region or selected species. The deadlines are three times a year: February 28, June 30, and October 31.
Did you know?
The Australian pelican has the longest bill of any bird in the world. It is nearly 2 feet (0.5 m) in length. The sword-billed hummingbird, with its 3.9-inch (10 cm) bill, is the only bird with a bill that’s longer than its body
The marsh warbler can mimic more than 80 different birds. Other renowned mimics include mockingbirds and lyrebirds.