Western Atlantic Shorebird Association

About WASA

The Western Atlantic Shorebird Association, or WASA for short, is an association of biologists, wildlife managers, and concerned naturalists dedicated to the study and conservation of shorebirds and their habitats.

What is WASA?

WASA members scanning the beaches for shorebird flocks in Delaware.
Photo credit:Michael D. Dennison

The Western Atlantic Shorebird Association is an international joint venture of federal, state, local and non-profit organizations, developed to promote the integration of shorebird research, monitoring, and education efforts along the Western Atlantic flyway to support management efforts. The intent of WASA is not to duplicate existing efforts, but to facilitate integration and coordination of existing and future efforts utilizing a web-based infrastructure. The Web site is structured to incorporate new research and monitoring efforts, and to integrate existing educational programs such as the Shorebird Sister Schools Program. WASA's success will be measured by its ability to attract, respond to, and support the research, education, and management communities throughout the flyway from Tierra del Fuego to the Canadian Arctic.

The West Atlantic Flyway

Flyway Map
Some shorebird stopover sites on the Western Atlantic Flyway.

After the breeding season in the Canadian artic, many shorebirds migrate south for winter along the eastern coast of the North and South America. The route is called the Western Atlantic Flyway, to distinguish it from the Atlantic Flyway of Europe. Some species, such as Red Knots, travel the Flyway all the way to southern South America. After spending the summer there they fly back north in time for the brief arctic summer and a new breeding season.
Stop-overs are key sites used by migratory flocks to refuel their energy reserves prior to long flights. Typically, these sites are coastal wetlands such as estuaries where up to 500,000 shorebirds may crowd into to feed and rest. At least 11 major stop-overs have been identified on the Western Atlantic Flyway and are designated as Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserves.

WASA Members

Setting up a cannon net in San Antonio Este, Argentina.
Photo credit:B. Johnson

WASA members are dedicated to the study and conservation of shorebirds and their habitats. Scientists, researchers, wildlife managers, government officials and naturalists, among many others, are involved in this shorebird conservation network. All participants are dedicated in their efforts to broaden and strengthen knowledge of the migration of shorebirds along the Western Atlantic Flyway. The work of these individuals is crucial to the protection of these migratory birds and their seasonal flights. WASA's research also supports conservation efforts to preserve critical stopover sites that are used by these birds year after year as resting and feeding spots as they make their trans-continental treks.
The inaugural research project for WASA is the International Shorebird Banding Project organised by Professor Allan Baker, Canada, and Patricia M. González, Argentina. In this project Red Knots, Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones are being colour-banded in an effort to establish their population sizes, recruitment rates, habitat use and migration patterns.


Banding a shorebird.
Photo credit:Heather Wiggins

The study and management of migratory shorebirds requires close cooperation across political boundaries. There are numerous research efforts already underway in many different countries, and some of these are of international scope. Yet these projects often overlap. Scientists from different countries may be attempting to answer questions about the same aspects of migration or habitat conservation. Sometimes researchers are studying the same species, perhaps even the same flocks! Gaps between research efforts can result from this narrow focus in a few specific areas, and it is these voids that must be filled to better conserve shorebirds and their habitats. WASA was set up to provide an international forum for all those involved in the study and management of shorebirds on the West Atlantic Flyway. After a meeting of experts from Federal, State and non-profit organizations in September 1998, it was concluded that research and monitoring of shorebirds should be integrated in a more meaningful way to avoid duplication of effort and to better manage human impact on their habitat.
WASA also attempts to increase shorebird observations submitted to databases by capitalizing on the expertise of avid birders along the flyway. Observations by birders to the databases of researchers participating in WASA bolsters the individual research databases and contributes to a more rapid analysis and submission of research results for the management community. WASA brings birders, researchers, and system-wide programs including the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge System, the Shorebird Sister Schools Program, and the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network together towards improving our understanding and management of shorebirds and their habitats along the Western Atlantic Flyway.

Our Mission

Releasing a banded Willet, Delaware.
Photo credit:Heather Wiggins
  1. To promote the conservation and management of shorebirds and their habitats across the Westerm Atlantic flyway through the collaborative efforts of international parties.
  2. To obtain support for shorebird research, monitoring, education and habitat management from a variety of constituents and managing agencies.
  3. To avoid data gaps and overlaps through the organization and coordination of research efforts.
  4. To translate research findings into conservation management plans.
  5. To aid in public education by making information about shorebird migration and habitat preservation and management easily accessible to bird enthusiasts of all ages.

Our Sponsors

WASA is funded and run jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

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