In 2015, with the help of the Jekyll Island Foundation, we launched a robust nest monitoring program to better understand the importance of Jekyll Island’s beaches and dunes for Wilson’s Plovers, a shore bird listed as threatened by the State of Georgia. This annual effort includes weekly nest surveys that involve following bird tracks and analyzing the behavior of the adult pairs to locate highly camouflaged nests. Once a nest is found, we install a hidden camera system that disappears into the dunes. These cameras allow us to know, for the first time, how many of our nests are successful, how many are failing due to predation or disturbance, and what the probable cause may have been for the nests that fail to produce chicks. This work was inspired by and builds upon the excellent outreach and education efforts begun by Operation Plover Patrol founder, local naturalist, artist, and educator, Lydia Thompson.
For more information, download: Plover Quick Sheet (PDF)
To know where conservation is needed, and if conservation programs have been effective, shorebird scientists require a broad understanding of long-term species population trends. In 1974, Manomet organized the volunteer-based International Shorebird Survey (ISS) to gather information on shorebirds. Through the work of volunteers conducting seasonal surveys, this monitoring network provides data on shorebirds in over 3,400 locations. ISS data have been extensively used to document major shorebird migration staging areas throughout the Western Hemisphere and to identify and process site nominations for the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. The primary goal of the ISS is to have an operational monitoring program that will be sustained for decades on end to aid in the recovery of imperiled shorebird populations. Jekyll Island is proud to participate as a location and contributor to the ISS. We conduct shorebird species population counts monthly according to ISS survey protocols. We expect to learn the extent and importance of our island for shorebird residency and use as a stopping ground for migrators, while additionally contributing to the large-scale ISS detection of any long-term changes in abundance or species visitation. Fall and spring are the best seasons to see migratory species, and winter is the best season to see year-round resident species.