Shorebirds are famous for their long-distance migrations. Along their migration routes, however, many of these birds are now threatened by a growing set of risks. Important habitats are being lost to human disturbance, while invasive species—primarily introduced mammals like rats—threaten the birds as they visit their natural breeding grounds. As a result, over 60 percent of North American shorebird species are in decline and nearly 20 percent are considered threatened.
In order to effectively support shorebird habitat conservation, one must understand the shorebirds’ migratory patterns. Since 2007, the Packard Foundation has been a primary supporter of the Pacific Shorebird Migration Project, a collaborative study that uses remote sensing technology to document the migration patterns of shorebirds in the Pacific basin. This information has proven key to understanding the global-scale threats to shorebirds and their most critical habitats.
In May 2010, the New York Times featured a discovery by the Pacific Shorebird Migration Project. The article, “7,000 Miles Nonstop, and No Pretzels,” describes the incredible endurance flight by bar-tailed godwits, a migration that takes the birds from Alaska to New Zealand, some without stopping along the way.