• Piping plover by Scott Hecker

    Protection and Restoration of Piping Plover Habitat in the Bahamas Archipelago

  • Andros Island by Margo Zdravkovic

    Protection and Restoration of Piping Plover Habitat in the Bahamas Archipelago

  • Roseate Terns by Scott Hecker

    Protection and Restoration of Piping Plover Habitat in the Bahamas Archipelago

  • Posted plover habitat by Scott Hecker

    Protection and Restoration of Piping Plover Habitat in the Bahamas Archipelago

  • Plover survey by Scott Hecker

    Protection and Restoration of Piping Plover Habitat in the Bahamas Archipelago

In Brief

Location:

The Bahamas Archipelago of 700 islands.

Goal:

Protect and restore coastal beach habitat for migratory piping plovers, migratory shorebirds, and resident beach-nesting birds.

Conservation Value:

The 700 islands of the Bahamas archipelago provide a wintering area for about a quarter of the known wintering population of piping plovers. These coastal habitats are also important for other wintering waterbirds and high numbers of resident breeding birds including roseate tern, Wilson's plover, American oystercatcher, least tern, and bridled tern.

Threats:

Key threats to piping Ppovers and other beach-using birds are from habitat destroying Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia), which is invading beach areas right down to the water, and from human disturbance (boaters, beach-goers, pets, ATVs).

photo: Conservian

Actions & Results:

Since 2016, Conservian has partnered with the Bahamas National Trust and Birds Caribbean to implement its site-by-site effort to restore and protect key shorebird sites in the Bahamas. This project is building local capacity for coastal stewardship with hands-on conservation actions.

  • Biologists and a volunteer crew travel to key sites aboard a 75-ft research schooner to sites that include national parks, Important Bird Areas and some remote locations.
  • Australian pine is been eradicated though girdling and herbicide application in 15 linear miles of beach habitats or 350 acres along with related training of Bahamian parks staff for a multi-year eradication program.
  • Signage is erected to demarcate restricted shorebird areas and address site-specific issues such as pets, vehicles, boat landings, prohibited mechanical beach-raking and cleaning practices, and limits on the use of beach furniture.  26 shorebird sites have been protected and 10 Bahamian residents have been traiened to contiue tis work.
  • Data is collected on beach-nesting bird abundance, distribution, habitat use, and human-caused disturbance.
  • In January 2022 the Conservian team will add the International Piping Plover census to its duties.

Project Field Partner:

Conservian Coastal Bird Conservation in partnership with the Bahamian National Trust

Cost:

2020-21 budget delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Cumulative cost to ICFC (2016-2020): CA$344,845

Size of Area Involved:

All important sites within the entire 8,573-km2 Bahamas

Support this project

Gallery

Click to enlarge an image

Bridled tern ( by E. Gates)
Casuarina control (photo: Scott Hecker)
Least terns (by Jim Gray)
Male Wilson's plover (photo: Scott Hecker)
Off to work (photo: Scott Hecker)
Posting nesting areas (photo: E. Mason)
Research schooner (photo: Scott Hecker)
Sails up (photo: Scott Hecker)
Wilsons plover (photo: Margo Zdravkovic)

In More Depth...

Project Partners and Personnel

Our partner Conservian Coastal Bird Conservation with project leader Margo Zdravkovic. For this project, Conservian is working with volunteers, the Bahamas National Trust, and BirdsCaribbean.  In 2016, ICFC received support for this project from the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Field crew, 2016

Background

Most of the Bahamas shorebird habitat remains unmonitored and unprotected from human-caused disturbance due to lack of resources and funding. There is an urgent need to begin monitoring, protection and restorative actions for shorebirds as these imperiled species are enduring ever-increasing, human-caused disturbance and habitat loss. Invasive Australian pine is of particular concern in the Bahamas and is present on the majority of the islands. The pine destabilizes coastlines and is highly destructive to native beach habitat and beach-dependent species.

In 2015, ICFC's field partner, Conservian, conducted aerial surveys to identify priority sites as a basis for beginning a multi-year conservation effort.

Actions

Results to date:

  • 26 priority shorebird sites posted
  • 20 Bahamian volunteers participated in posting to protect shorebird/seabird sites
  • 10 local Bahamian volunteer stewards trained and monitoring shorebirds at 12 sites
  • 8 Bahamian government and national park staff were trained in invasive Casuarina pine control
  • Casuarina control was carried out at 5 Bahamas National Park sites

Work will continue in 2022.

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