Semipalmated sandpipers, Avonport NS (Photo by Christine Gilroy)

Semipalmated sandpipers, Avonport NS (Photo by Christine Gilroy)

WHSRN expansion project

Birds along the new proposed WHSRN expansion site (Photo by NCC)

Birds along the new proposed WHSRN expansion site (Photo by NCC)

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is leading a special project to protect migratory shorebirds and their globally significant habitats in the Bay of Fundy. Throughout 2018, NCC will be working with Bay of Fundy communities and conservation groups to raise awareness of mudflat and beach habitats critical to semipalmated sandpipers and other migratory birds.

Proposed WHSRN Expansion Sites map

(Click the image to enlarge)

NCC is building support for an application to the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) — an international conservation organization — to expand its recognized sites to include parts of Cumberland Basin and Cobequid Bay. NCC is seeking a designation of Landscape of Hemispheric Importance for these two new sites (outlined in purple), along with two others.

Every summer, close to one third of the world’s population of semipalmated sandpipers arrives in the Bay of Fundy to rest and feed, in preparation for their migration to South America. New research conducted by Mount Allison University and the Canadian Wildlife Service shows that beaches and mudflats in Cumberland Basin (near Minudie) and Cobequid Bay (near Debert) are critical for semipalmated sandpipers, which have declined by more than half since the 1970s. 

If the Bay of Fundy shorebird sites are designated as a Landscape of Hemispheric Importance by WHSRN, it will not impose regulations. Rather, the designation will help migratory shorebirds through greater coordination of science and conservation efforts. Only three other sites in the world have been recognized as Landscapes of Hemispheric Importance.

Some facts about WHSRN

  1. It is non-regulatory. It is an agreement to help shorebirds through a network of key sites across the Americas.
  2. Helps to develop science and management tools that lead to long-term conservation.
  3. Raises public awareness and generates conservation funding opportunities.
  4. Supports community engagement and local economic sustainability.
Semipalmated sandpiper (Photo by NCC)

Semipalmated sandpiper (Photo by NCC)

Intertidal mudflats and beaches in the upper Bay of Fundy provide migratory stopover habitat for approximately 30 per cent of the global population of semipalmated sandpipers. Tens of thousands of semipalmated sandpipers come to the undesignated mudflats of Cobequid Bay and Cumberland Basin every summer.

These amazing birds fly more than 17,000 kilometres per year, but they cannot swim! While here, they try to double their weight to 40 grams so that they can survive a three-day, non-stop flight south over the Atlantic Ocean.

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