Organizations around the world are highlighting the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by committing to continued conservation action to protect birds for another 100 years. Here on Delaware Bay, with one of the most phenomenal bird migrations on our beaches each spring, we also commit to continued action.
Pole to Pole with a Stop on Delaware Bay
Every May, thousands of hungry shorebirds, including Red Knots, head north from South America to breed in the Arctic. After flying the longest leg of their migration, the birds arrive on the Bayshore ready to rest and refuel. At the same time, the largest population of spawning horseshoe crabs lays small, green eggs on sandy beaches along the Delaware Bay. These eggs help the shorebirds double their weight so they can keep going.
But this Story has Changed…..
Overharvesting of horseshoe crabs for bait has reduced not only the population of horseshoe crabs, but also the number of eggs available
for shorebirds, contributing to a drastic reduction in shorebird populations. Combined with other threats, including human disturbance, shorebirds struggle to survive.
Students Take Action
Students from local schools were invited to use art as a tool for education and conservation. This art will help people understand how they can be respectful visitors by sharing the beach with the birds and horseshoe crabs, as well as encouraging more people to get involved in conservation actions. This spring at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, shorebird and horseshoe crab art from fifth grade classes at Brandywine Springs Elementary School is on exhibit, and displayed below.
These students are not alone. The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) and its site partners are working to conserve shorebirds and their habitats through a network of key sites across the Americas.
In 1986, Delaware Bay was the FIRST site recognized by WHSRN because of the critical role it plays as a stopover site. There are now 102 sites in 16 countries.