Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

4.9K Birds Seen During Global Shorebird Count

September 12, 2023
mixed shorebird flock

Early September marks an important time for shorebird research and conservation. Every year, professionals, volunteers, and citizen scientists around the world participate in a Global Shorebird Count the first week of the month, leading up to World Shorebirds Day on Sept. 6.

This year, the SCCF shorebird team surveyed Sanibel, Captiva, North Captiva, and various Fort Myers locations. Over the week, the team counted 4,918 shorebirds, seabirds, and wading birds from 41 species.

Most Abundant Species

  1. Sanderling (Calidris alba)
  2. Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
  3. Willet (Tringa semipalmata)
  4. Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
  5. Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

“This unified counting event benefits shorebirds by yielding valuable information about the abundance and distribution of species worldwide, and also by promoting the public’s awareness of and involvement in shorebird conservation,” said SCCF Shorebird Intern Jessie Macaluso.

The shorebird team was also very fortunate to resight multiple banded birds during the Global Shorebird Count. These included piping plovers from the Great Lakes region, a newly banded royal tern fledgling from Georgia, and even one of Sanibel’s very own 2023 snowy plover fledges. 

banded least tern on beach.
Whimbrel, a banded least tern who was sighted for the first time since 2021.

“Probably the most exciting was the resighting of a banded least tern (Sternula antillarum) nicknamed ‘Whimbrel,’” Macaluso said. “This bird hadn’t been seen since it left its natal colony on Outback Key in 2021! It was a cheerful moment for both the SCCF shorebird team and Whimbrel’s monitors up north.”

Up to 45 shorebird species can be seen at some point during the year on Sanibel and Captiva. Improve your identification skills with the webinar below. 

Learn more about World Shorebirds Day.


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