The most abundant shorebird in Western North America is the Western Sandpiper. And that’s the sound of this Sandpiper. We spoke with John Takekawa, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He and colleagues study the movement of migratory birds like sandpipers — to understand the habitats that are important for them along the Pacific Flyway — a region along the West coast of North America, from Mexico all the way up to Alaska.
A recently completed study found that salt ponds in the Bay Area — artificially created a century ago for commercial salt production — might be the most important stopover for Western Sandpipers outside of Alaska. They’re a focus now for Takekawa’s research.
John Takekawa: It’s been very important to have a better understanding of what our conservation needs are for migration areas along the coast as we continue to face development pressures in Western North America. We also, at the same time, are trying to save the most important areas that allow migrations of these species to continue. So our work is aimed at trying to figure out which areas are most important, and also which areas are the ones that the birds seem to use for the longest time period.