The Space to Roost project is a collaborative project between several organizations including Dalhousie, led by Sue Abbott at Bird Studies Canada, that focuses on understanding and addressing human pressures facing fall migrant shorebirds at roost sites along the Minas Basin of the Bay of Fundy. The semi-palmated sandpiper is of particular concern in this Important Bird Area and Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). We are interested in identifying where conflicts occur between people and roosting shorebirds during the high tide period. We then hope to collaborate with key user groups to generate, trial and assess conservation strategies to reduce shorebird disturbance at those ‘at risk’ roost sites.

Fishermen and migratory birds compete for space at the Minas basin (photo: Mark Elderkin)

Fishermen and migratory birds compete for space at the Minas Basin (photo: Mark Elderkin)

Bird Studies Canada has  funding from the NS Habitat Conservation Fund (thus contributions from hunters and trappers), the Government of Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation for this three-year project. In late summer 2016 – peak fall migration – we conducted baseline human-use and human-shorebird interaction audits at 3-4 roost sites in the Minas Basin. This first field season, which included brief interviews of beach users, laid the ground work for developing and piloting acceptable conservation strategies to reduce human pressures at roost sites. After that, and a survey of anglers who are the heaviest users at one of the two highest priority sites, we identified beaches likely to be supported by beach users as high-tide shorebird resting beaches. Signage and handouts were designed and their impacts monitored through 2017 and 2018.

Research Trainees

Jaya Fahey (BSc 2015 Acadia) undertook the monitoring of human use and human-shorebird interactions across four Minas Basin beaches in summers 2016-8, including the design and implementation of shorebird resting beaches for high-tide conditions, and is using the results for her Masters of Environmental Studies.

Rebekha Persad is a University of Waterloo co-op student on work term in fall 2016 with Environment & Climate Change Canada who analyzed shorebird and human use data collected by the Space to Roost project .