Leaving Space to Roost: An Examination of Human Disturbances to Shorebirds in the Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia.
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Every year, up to 1.4 million shorebirds, such as the Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla), use the Bay of Fundy and the Minas Basin as a stopover site before continuing their transoceanic migration to their southern wintering grounds. According to the 2019 State of Canada’s Birds report, shorebird populations have declined an average of 40% since the 1970s due to various threats. One such risk is anthropogenic disturbances to roosting shorebirds on migratory stopover sites. If disturbed while roosting, shorebirds will attempt to avoid the threat, often taking flight and leaving the area in search of a safer roosting site. This unnecessary energy expenditure is detrimental as it depletes the fat stores used to supply them with enough energy to complete their migration. This research aimed to identify the frequency and nature of anthropogenic disturbances to roosting shorebirds caused by recreational beach users in the Minas Basin, Nova Scotia, Canada. It also examines the level of awareness and the attitudes the users have toward migratory shorebird conservation issues in the area. Through observation of disturbances at roosting sites, it was determined that the three recreational activities which cause the most disturbance to shorebirds in the Minas Basin are: walking, fishing, and wildlife photography. This finding in the 2020 season was consistent with disturbance data dating from 2016 onward. Surveys were conducted with recreational beach users, finding that many users were aware of migratory shorebirds in the Minas Basin but did not know about the detrimental effects of human disturbances. Keywords: Shorebird Conservation; Migratory Shorebirds; Human Disturbance; Minas Basin; Bay of Fundy; Conservation; Roosting Shorebirds; High Tide Roosting.