Shorebirds of America

Two black-bellied plovers arrived on a stopover ground near Pensacola Beach, Florida in early May of this year. This is an atypical stopover location for these birds, however very rewarding to the Florida Birding Community. They flew non-stop of approximately 3,400 miles from Brazil to Florida in roughly five days, which is both amazing and now more expected. They will continue north to the shores of Lake Erie, near Ontario and after three weeks of feeding and resting at these stopover sites, the plovers will be back on the wing, stopping along Lake Manitoba, and in the far northern reaches of Northwest Territories, Canada and towards Teshekpuk Lake, a 320-square-mile marvel surrounded by ponds, wetlands, and soggy tundra in far northern Alaska. These stops will last between a week and ten days with the pull of the breeding season winning out. All black-bellied plovers will leave these stops and soon arrive on breeding grounds in early to mid-June. Other shorebirds will stay and make the coastal shores of Florida their summer home. Understanding the linkages between these far-flung stopover sites will be critical in conservation of these and other shorebirds moving forward. In addition to these birds, one has to also consider the polar bear, artic fox, various whales, numerous fish, other unique wildlife and deep-water corals are home and nesting grounds to many animals. Yet, they’re not the only ones lured to the remote spot. For decades, energy companies have eyed the same swath of coastal plain, an area supposedly as rich in oil as it is in wildlife—with recent fossil-fuel discoveries that have intensified their interest. For decades our administration(s) have been protecting this land. In 1960, republicans set aside the core of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 1980, democrats doubled the size of the Refuge and protected this pristine wilderness from oil drilling. And in 2005, the Arctic Wilderness Act provided wilderness protection to the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These are bipartisan with over hundreds of cosponsors which joined in on the Arctic Wilderness bill. In 2016, a drilling ban of about 120 million acres of Arctic Ocean and about 3.8 million acres in the Atlantic Ocean was put into place. We need to preserve and protect, honor and defend, for our children and their grandchildren, this last untouched Arctic ecosystem. Would we build a dam on the Merced River that would eliminate Yosemite Fall or mine for gold in Yellowstone National Park? The answer is NO….