Gulf Oil Spill Monitoring
The events surrounding the Deepwater Horizon accident were devastating to Louisiana and we continue to work with our partners to understand the effects of this disaster through long-term monitoring of the coast with support from the American Birding Association and in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.
Louisiana Bird Resource Office and American Birding Association Coastal Surveys
We have three major efforts to understand the impacts of the oil spill. The first is to continue the coast-wide surveys, which are being completed by an expert team of observers very familiar with coastal Louisiana. Monthly surveys are the goal and with the recent grant from the American Birding Association, surveys will continue through Summer 2012.
Louisiana Bird Atlas
Another effort to measure the effects of the spill is to simply continue the Louisiana Bird Atlas. We have effort-based data from the coastal areas impacted prior to the effects of the spill. This is a perfect example of why atlas data are important. These data were made available to the National Resource Damage Assessment team as they work to measure the impacts.
Audubon Coastal Bird Surveys
We are also working with National Audubon's new program to survey coastal areas repeatedly with the Audubon Coastal Bird Survey protocol. This is a Gulf-wide effort and we strongly encourage Louisiana birders to help. Instead of competing for observers, we are making sure our protocols are compatible. This means you get more citizen-science mileage per unit of birding effort.
Volunteer bird watchers are needed to help conduct Audubon Coastal Bird Surveys (ACBS) in Louisiana and the four other Gulf Coast states. Frequent surveys along standardized routes during key migratory and winter periods will provide valuable population and habitat-use data. These surveys will also help Audubon identify and address conservation needs of coastal waterbirds and shorebirds, many of which are experiencing population declines. Such information is vital in an ecosystem facing a variety of threats, including coastal marsh loss, frequent oil spills, and human disturbance or development of beaches. Even our familiar Sanderling is experiencing population declines and the Gulf of Mexico provides critical stopover and wintering habitat for this and other beachfront specialists like Piping Plover, Wilson’s Plover, and Red Knot.
How can you help? If you can identify a suite of about 25 regularly occurring shorebirds and waterbirds, including terns, plovers, and some sandpipers, then you are likely a candidate coastal bird surveyor! Depending on the route, each survey involves walking about 1-2 miles and should take no more than 2 hours to complete. Audubon will also conduct training seminars, lead shorebird walks, and pair novice bird watchers with more experienced surveyors. If you would like to participate in the program or would like more information, please contact Dustin Renaud, Audubon’s Gulf of Mexico volunteer program manager or Erik Johnson, Audubon’s Gulf of Mexico conservation biologist.
Media Development Partnership
Finally, we worked closely with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's media team to obtain footage and photos of coastal Louisiana birds during and after the spill. You can find some of the incredible products via the links provided below:
** Header Image is Brown Pelicans by Jason Griffith **