OTTAWA: Shorebirds are among the best-travelled creatures on earth, travelling thousands of kilometres between their breeding grounds in the north and their wintering grounds in the south. The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) needs help to better understand the amazing migratory birds that stop-over along shores on the East Coast.

The Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey (ACSS) is a volunteer-based survey that relies on the skills, dedication and long-term support of bird watchers throughout Atlantic Canada. Volunteer bird watchers regularly head out to more than 100 sites to gather important information to help biologists as they work to conserve species that are experiencing declining populations.

This vital information helps biologists estimate the population size of a variety of species, monitor trends and track stopover locations.

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Sylvia Fullerton is a dedicated volunteer in Nova Scotia. She started with the Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey in 1974 when she moved back to the province. Sylvia became interested in bird watching while living in New York City and now surveys birds in Lunenburg County year-round.

“I’ve always been keen on birds,” Fullerton said. “Keeping records is great because you can see what’s happening. With more data, maybe we can figure out why shorebirds are declining, and how we can help them.”

Anyone who’s a beach bum, a bird nerd or simply loves the great outdoors can help conserve shorebirds and monitor their activity by joining Fullerton and others in the Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey. Find a survey spot of interest. ACSS sites can be beaches, tidal flats, saltmarshes, freshwater marshes, and sometimes even fields and heathlands. Typically volunteers go out to their designated observation post just once every 10 days to collect information about the birds they see there.

Essential equipment for surveying includes: binoculars; pen and pencil; a clipboard or field book; ACSS data sheets (provided); a site map (provided); Spotting Scope (optional); and enthusiasm (required).

For more information about how to help the Canadian Wildlife Service conserve migratory birds in Atlantic Canada, please contact Julie Paquet at: julie.paquet2@canada.ca or at 506-364-5037.