PRBO Conservation Science
Quarterly Journal of PRBO Conservation Science, Number 167, Winter 2012: Vital Indicators

Vital Indicators


Shorebird Surveys

Conserving Shorebirds Throughout the Pacific Flyway

Matt Reiter, PhD

Vital Indicators
Director's Column: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Media
Seabirds and Marine Protection
Shorebirds Respond to Changing Bayshore Habitats
Restoration Works!
Songbirds and Global Change
Focus on Hummingbirds
Planning For the Future of Nature
PRBO Highlights
International Shorebird Surveys
Ross Sea Protection
PRBO Wish List

Biologists and citizen scientists in Panama City prepare for the first winter counts on Panama Bay, in the Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey. Photo by Matt Reiter (PRBO).
The Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey (PFSS) is a coordinated, multi-partner monitoring program initiated and led by PRBO since 2010. It aim is to support the management and conservation of the shorebirds that winter throughout the Pacific Flyway—from Canada to Peru.

Following monitoring workshops (co-led by Matt Reiter, PhD) last fall in British Columbia, Mexico, and Panama, more than 40 international partners helped launch the large-scale effort this winter. Surveys took place in Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Mexico has adopted the PFSS protocol to monitor natural areas, and has committed two years of funding to our partners for shorebird surveys at 11 important sites.

Also this winter, PRBO along with hundreds of citizen scientists and partner biologists surveyed shorebirds throughout California. We conducted surveys along 500 miles of roads in the Central Valley, tallied over 100,000 birds using San Francisco Bay, and carried out the first shorebird survey in San Diego Bay. Our partners surveyed eight other coastal sites from Humboldt Bay to Newport Bay.

Surveys also describe habitat conditions at each site. By linking shorebird count data with habitat change, we will learn about how to meet the needs of shorebirds during this period of rapid environmental change.

PFSS data will be presented in the form of visual, interactive online tools at the California Avian Data Center ( Currently, PFSS data from 2010 can be viewed interactively at

Shorebird surveys will take place every winter. To learn more or get involved, contact Matt Reiter ( or Catherine Hickey (

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