About the project
In June 2023, eight American Golden-Plovers (Pluvialis dominica) were equipped with 3.5-gram PinPoint GPS Argos tags (the world’s smallest GPS Argos tags) at Teshekpuk Lake Special Area in the Western Arctic. Fitting these eight individuals with GPS tags is the first step of the American Golden-Plover Southbound Migration Project—a study overseen by Manomet, Inc. and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Alaska Region, with assistance from Audubon Alaska, Audubon's Boreal Conservation Program, Audubon Americas, and the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative.
The project will highlight the importance of migratory bird habitat by following the southbound route of the American Golden-Plover—a medium-sized, black-bellied wading bird—which makes one of the longest migration journeys of any shorebird. The species completes an elliptical migration pattern, essentially using two different migratory routes during their annual migration between breeding and wintering areas. Its journey starts in the Alaskan Arctic, courses through northern Canada to the North Atlantic, darts across the Atlantic Ocean, and winds up in Argentina. To return, it cuts through northern South America, across the Gulf of Mexico, through the middle contiguous U.S., then Canada, and returns to the Arctic tundra.
This summer, during the post-breeding period, we’ll possibly detect the marked birds in the foothills of the Brooks Range or the Foxe Basin Peninsula in Canada. In late summer, the focus may shift to Hudson Bay and spots in New England. And from August through December, we may follow along through the upper Amazon in Brazil and coastal grasslands in Uruguay. The American Golden-Plover is a focal species for the Atlantic and Midcontinent shorebird conservation initiatives.
By tracking these eight individuals, Audubon Alaska and its partners hope to underscore important work, like the Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (PRISM), an international collaborative science and bird population estimate and trend monitoring program, and its current implementation in the Americas. On the conservation side, we’ll spotlight threats like oil and gas development, human disturbance, and climate change to the Arctic tundra—an essential region for breeding and migration.
Follow our eight individuals while focusing on the species’ post-breeding locations, staging areas, and stopover sites, and how the conservation of those places is vital to complete transoceanic migrations. This will highlight the accelerating decline of North America’s shorebirds, and how urgent conservation solutions are needed.