South Sound Science: Changes in the Abundance of Shorebirds at Kennedy Creek Estuary.

Joe Buchanan of Cascadia Research and WA Department of Fish & Wildlife on:

Potential influence of species interactions among native and/or exotic species on shorebird abundance suggests that establishing baseline conditions for monitoring will require a greater understanding of community dynamics in estuarine ecosystems.

Notes from Joe’s talk:

Visited Kennedy Creek from 1980 through 2008, with few visits between 1989 to 1998 (23 of over 1,000 visits total).

Increase in Black Bellied Plover in the mid-80s from 200 to 1,000.

Greater Yellow Legs, Kennedy Creek used to house a large population of these birds. From 1975 to currently, the counts have dropped from around 25 to near zero.

Western Sandpiper populations have also dropped from daily high counts of +5,000 to 16. “That’s one-six.”

He also talked about dunlin numbers (which have dropped) and residency time (which has decreased).

Black Bellied plover numbers are likely connected to chum salmon, more salmon more birds.

Western sandpiper connected to restoration of perigrain falcon restoration. More falcons force sandpipers out of smaller areas. Might be same with Dunlin.

Questions and Answers:

Are you seeing less falcons?

Yes, I’m seeing more falcons, and less merlins. They’re clearly in charge.

What might be changing the timing?

In 2002 perigrain falcons began reappearing, so it made the smaller estuary at Kennedy Creek a less safe area for smaller birds.