Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program: a history of protection and stories from the field
Mass Audubon's Coastal Waterbird Program (CWP) is one of the most effective entities working to protect coastal birds and barrier beaches in New England. The CWP was launched in 1987 in response to declining populations of piping plovers and terns in Massachusetts, with the primary objective of protecting these species' nesting areas throughout the state, partnering with federal, state, and local governing bodies, private and public landowners, Mass Audubon members, and the public. Since its first year, the program has successfully helped to recover the populations of the Piping Plover from 150 pairs in 1985 to 650 in 2011. Massachusetts is integral to the recovery of the federally threatened Atlantic Coast Population of the Piping Plover, supporting roughly 1/3 of the breeding population. The program monitors 130 sites on the Massachusetts coastline, primarily on the South Shore, Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod and the Islands, and protects approximately 40% of state’s federally threatened Piping Plovers, 60% of Least Terns, 20% of American Oystercatchers, as well as many sites for Common and Arctic Terns. This lecture will describe Mass Audubon’s coastal bird protection efforts, and follow some of the successes and challenges of restoring plover and tern populations in Massachusetts.