American oystercatcher management in florida
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Ann B. Hodgson, Ph. D., PWS Gulf Coast Ecosystem Science Coordinator / Sanctuaries Manager Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries Program 410 Ware Blvd., Ste. 702 Tampa, FL 33619 813 623-6826 Phone / 813 376-8663 Field Phone [email protected] American Oystercatcher Management in Florida.

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American Oystercatcher Management in Florida

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Ann B. Hodgson, Ph. D., PWS

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Science Coordinator / Sanctuaries Manager

Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries Program

410 Ware Blvd., Ste. 702

Tampa, FL 33619

813 623-6826 Phone / 813 376-8663 Field Phone

[email protected]

American Oystercatcher Management in Florida


Dr. Ann Hodgson, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Science Coordinator / Sanctuaries Manager

Ann Paul

Tampa Bay Regional Coordinator

Mark Rachal

Field Biologist

Carol Cassels

Seasonal Warden

Rob Heath

Spoonbill Technician

Project ColonyWatch Volunteers

Audubon of Florida’s organizational plan:

The Gulf Coast Region was established in 2005 as one of six Audubon of Florida organizational regions.

FCISP manages 9+ counties on the Gulf Coast, AND

The 5 historic sanctuaries in Palm Beach County.

FCISP continues (>100 yrs) as a FL colonial waterbird research center.

FCISP provides technical services to public and private cooperators.

Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries Program

AMOY Conservation Issuesin Tampa Bay, FL

  • Large AMOY breeding population and high CBC counts annually.

  • Shoreline development continues to decrease habitat options for all life history requirements.

  • Human disturbance from water-based recreation, residential, commercial and industrial development is stressing the AMOY population.

  • Amplified ship wakes, primarily from the cruise ships and large cargo traffic (Tampa Bay now allows ‘Panamax’ ships), which create impressive bow wakes that are over-washing AMOY nests, particularly with the high spring tides.

American Oystercatcher Count by 2003 CBC Circle

CBC FL - number of birds reported per party hour

Data: Number of birds reported per party hour

  • The graph was generated using the number of birds reported per party hour; a measure of the amount of time spent searching for birds or the amount of effort expended. This is one way to standardize Christmas Bird Count data over time. Some years, there may have been a lot of people counting birds, while other years there may have been fewer participants in the field. As CBC participation fluctuates (and as the number of CBC Count Circles increases), raw count numbers may also fluctuate (more counters can often lead to more birds reported).

CBC FL - raw count numbers

Data: Raw count numbers

  • The graph was generated using raw count numbers for the species selected. Because of fluctuations in the number of participants on CBC's from year to year, and the growth in the number of CBC count circles over the last 100 years, the graph may be misleading.

2006 Pairs of AMOY, SNPL, and WIPL on the FL Gulf Coast

2006 population estimate was 68 pairs/nests in Hills. Bay, FL.

Nesting concentrated on Spoil islands 2D&3D, and RTP Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary, and Apollo Beach area.

68/(850 birds/2) = 68/425 = 15+% of the Florida population.

Strong site fidelity – the same pairs nest at the same site every year; comparing nest sites inter-annually, we know that pairs come in early on the same beach sites annually; the trio always nests at the same site for the past 15 yrs.

High fecundity / pair.

Low chick survivorship.

Poor fledging success.

Factors affecting AMOY Reproductive Success in Hillsborough Bay, FL

AMOY, WIPL, SNPL breeding census 1994-2006, Tampa Bay, FL

Tampa Bay, FL

Hillsborough Bay, FL

Apollo Beach, S. Hillsborough Bay, FL

Photo Credits: Southwest Florida Water Management District

Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary, 3Dand ‘Beer Can Island’

Photo Credit: Gandy Aerial Photography, Inc.

Photo Credit: Southwest Florida Water Management District

Port Manatee Key, S. Tampa Bay, FL.

AMOY/beach-nesting shorebird protection is labor-intensive!

Adult AMOY are regularly disturbed by recreational boaters

Adult AMOY driven off the nest by a boater

Amoy nests are practically invisible

AMOY chicks are vulnerable to predation regardless of cryptic coloration

Typical oyster bar and mangrove islets habitat

Emergent oyster bars provide shorebird foraging

FCISP participates on the Tampa Bay regional Migratory Bird Protection Committee with agency partners (U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tampa Port Authority (TPA)).

FCISP annual conducts AMOY breeding surveys on the Gulf Coast.

The TPA is increasing the dike height 20 ft. on Spoil Island 2D.

TPA proposed to construct a ‘wildlife habitat structure’ as part of the project mitigation - FCISP recommended the site location of the ‘structure’ in front of 7 persistent AMOY territories.

The ‘structure’ will be a revetment of large rip rap, designed to attenuate high waves from large cargo ships in the shipping channel.

FCISP staff seasonally patrols AMOY breeding locations/known nesting areas, especially in Hillsborough Bay, on weekends and holidays – we have distributed 70,000 Hillsborough Bay Boaters’ Guides in the past 5 years to provide public boating education and marine conservation.

FCISP is leading the beach-nesting bird conservation committee to protect AMOY and other beach-nesters along the Gulf Coast region.

FCISP received a TPA grant to analyze 15+ years of AMOY data in Hillsborough Bay.

FCISP submitted a WCS grant to expand Project ColonyWatch and beach-nesting bird protection on the Gulf Coast region.

Hillsborough Bay AMOY Conservation Planning

Spoil Island 2D – the Tampa shipping channel is off the west shore.

Tampa shipping channel –

west shoreline

2D ‘Wildlife Habitat Structure’ Locations


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program

NFWF Pinellas County Environmental Fund

Tampa Port Authority

Manatee County Port Authority

Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County

Tampa Bay Estuary Program

Sarasota Bay Estuary Program

Sarasota County Environmental Department

Mosaic LLC

Gulfstream LLC

Private Donors

Literature Cited

Hodgson, A. B., A. F. Paul, and M. Rachal. In prep. Bay Environmental Monitoring Report: Chapter 17 – Avian Conservation. Tampa Bay Estuary Program, St. Petersburg, FL.

National Audubon Society. 2006. Internet: Accessed 2Dec2006.


Photo Credit: Pat Leary

Photo Credit: Lorraine Margeson

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