Conservation efforts keep amazing me along the way. This time it was about the Snowy Plover, increasing from 35 to almost 500 individuals thanks to the joint efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and the community. Being able to contribute my part in the conservation and nesting success of this species was immensely rewarding. My time in the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area opened my eyes again to the idea of how human beings can completely change a natural landscape over the years. This, in turn, encourages me to see myself as part of the ecosystem and to do my best to mend the errors committed in the past.
Decades ago, we introduced plants that transformed the flat sandy shore into dunes which prevent the Snowy Plover from nesting. Combining strategies, we are doing our best to correct this but we still have a lot to do. The main nesting threat is predation. Being a recreational area, trash attracts Common Ravens, which also like to eat the eggs. Predation management, driftwood and dead animal removal, and enclosing nests combined with habitat restoration has resulted in greater nesting success. Twenty years later we have accomplished 200% of the recovery goal in Oregon and Washington.
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Our experience in this refuge was a little different than the other. Reaching out to more than a thousand kids, we migrated from elementary to middle schools with our outreach program. Thousands of happy faces, passionate about being birds for a day, really touched my heart. Hearing from a nine-year-old that he wants to be a BirdTripper when he grows up made me feel special and value even more what I am doing today. Astounding questions like “Why are there so many different birds in the world?” made me configure my brain in a way that I can explain evolution for a nine-year-old’s knowledge.