December Wrack Line Newsletter

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December 14 - January 5: Audubon's 123rd Christmas Bird Count

FSA News

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The Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative Launches a New Bird-friendly Photography Website

Photography of shorebirds and seabirds along Florida’s shores and beaches is a popular activity. While getting the perfect shot, it's important to avoid disturbing the birds, and their nests and chicks. To support wildlife photographers in getting the best photos while not disturbing birds, professional photographers and wildlife biologists teamed up to develop a new website full of tips, guidance and resources. The Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative invites you to to learn about bird-friendly photography so you can be prepared, understand the cues birds are giving you, and get a great shot while keeping the health and safety of birds a priority. 

Check out the new website here!

Barge Canal Island

Research Spotlight: Factors Limiting Reproductive Success of American Oystercatchers in Florida's Southern Big Bend Region

Each breeding season, shorebirds and seabirds face numerous challenges on the road to reproductive success. At any site, there may be confounding threats to nesting birds that require a concerted effort to improve nesting outcomes. The 2022 Annual Report highlighted one such effort to improve shorebird productivity at the Barge Canal spoil islands in the Margorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway State Park. The site is home to one of the largest concentrations of nesting American oystercatchers in Florida. Land managers successfully implemented a site-specific adaptive management plan to increase fledgling rates in an area to benefit nesting oystercatchers. The management actions were informed by the long-term data in the Florida Shorebird Database and the results of a study recently published in the Journal Waterbirds that intensively looked at factors limiting breeding success and.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has monitored breeding oystercatchers in the Big Bend region since 2011. Continuous monitoring revealed that the Barge Canal spoil islands had high reproductive effort but consistently poor productivity. American oystercatchers exhibit high site fidelity and often continue to use the same nesting area for many years even when reproductive success is poor. In Florida’s Big Bend, where nesting habitat is limited, effective site management is critical for conserving this species.

Due to the remote nature of the spoil islands and rocky habitats, most nest and chick failures were attributed to unknown sources. To improve breeding outcomes, starting in 2016, the FWC and the University of Florida evaluated factors limiting breeding success at the Barge Canal spoil islands. The study used several techniques to monitor oystercatcher breeding activity including the use of game cameras, increased survey frequency, habitat surveys and human disturbance surveys.

Researchers used motion-sensing cameras to monitor oystercatcher nests and determine sources of failure or confirm successful hatching. The cameras also detected predators, chick presence, and humans on the islands throughout the breeding season. During the study, the use of remote cameras improved detection of nest failures. Results revealed that predation was the leading known cause of nest failure (31%) at the spoil islands. The data also showed that most documented nests survived to hatch, however, chick survival was low and 40% of the few chicks that survived to fledging did not survive until 60 days of age.

Through remote cameras and direct monitoring, the research revealed that numerous predators were attracted to the woody vegetation located on a few of the spoil islands. The presence of this vegetation attracted predators to oystercatcher nesting areas during critical times of the nesting season. The research led to the development of a management strategy to conduct vegetation management to reduce predator densities at the spoil islands. These activities resulted in incredible nesting outcomes at the site.

wildlife alert logo

FWC’s Wildlife Alert Now Using Tip411 System 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Wildlife Alert System is now using a safe and effective new system for submitting anonymous tips. The public can contact FWC Law Enforcement by downloading an easy-to-use iPhone or Android app: FWC Wildlife Alert.  

The new Tip411 system enables the public to anonymously communicate with members of FWC law enforcement via text, which will allow officers to receive the information they need to address violations more quickly and efficiently. The new system replaces the text and email functions, which have been phased out of operation.  

You can still submit anonymous text tips by text, phone or via the FWC website.  

To report a violation, you can use any one of these methods:  

  1. Download the iPhone or Android “FWC Wildlife Alert” app from your phone’s app store. 
  2. Send a text to 847411 (Tip411) with keyword “FWC” followed by the location and any information you can about the violation. 
  3. Call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922). 
  4. Submit a tip online at 

FSD banner

FSD Updates

Least tern and chick

Your Data In Action!

This year’s Florida Shorebird Alliance Monitoring Data at Work report features updated abundance estimates for all five focal species! The report includes statewide abundance estimates for 2019-2021, with 2019 serving as the baseline for measuring long-term population changes for these species. The methods for calculating shorebird abundance are detailed in the 2021 report, and the seabird abundance methods can be found in the 2020 report. The abundance estimates rely on the monitoring data FSA partners enter into the FSD – thanks to your hard work, we have statewide abundance estimates to share!

What’s next? The shorebird data team at FWC is hard at work creating a method to track population change over time. Each year, there is variation in monitoring frequency and coverage, and that variation can influence the abundance estimates. For that reason, we can’t infer trend based on the abundance estimates alone. A statistical method for analyzing trend will enable us to differentiate real population changes from these annual variations. Stay tuned!

Photo: Jean Hall

Ebb Tidings

Happy holidays