Wanted: Volunteer shorebird monitors

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are seeking volunteers to monitor piping plovers and other shorebirds from early April until late August at Connecticut beaches.

A training and orientation session will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 16 at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point in Milford. Past volunteers will be offered a refresher lesson from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

The sessions will review the biology of the piping plover, how to monitor breeding pairs and chicks, volunteer organization and logistics and law enforcement information. Trainers also demonstrate the construction of a plover enclosure and provide beach training with simulated plover eggs.

Atlantic Coast populations of piping plovers return to the Connecticut coast in March from their wintering grounds on the Gulf Coast. The nests of the federally threatened piping plover are extremely susceptible to human disturbance, predation and tidal wash outs. To enhance the survival and productivity of breeding birds, an annual monitoring partnership is cooperatively sponsored by Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Audubon Connecticut, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Audubon Society, and The Nature Conservancy.

Volunteer monitors will observe and record data for nesting plovers and other shorebirds at locations across coastal Connecticut. The primary duties involve assisting with observation and data collection for nesting birds and educating the public. Volunteers work two-hour shifts from April until the end of the breeding season (usually in August) and must donate a minimum of 2 hours per month.

For information or directions to the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center, send an e-mail to Fish & Wildlife Service Ranger Shaun Roche at: shaun_roche@fws.gov. Reservations are not required, but an e-mail letting rangers know if you plan to attend is appreciated.

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