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

What is WASA?The West Atlantic FlywayWASA members Why WASA?Our MissionOur Sponsors

Shorebird watchers, Delaware
WASA members scanning the beaches for shorebird flocks in Delaware.
Photo: M.D.Dennison
What is WASA?
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 coordinated 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 School 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.
Flyway map
Shorebird Flyway map with major stopovers.
The West Atlantic Flyway
Many of the shorebirds which nest in the Canadian arctic 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 Flyways of Europe. Some species, such as Red Knots, travel the Flyway all the way to southern South America. After spending the austral summer there they turn around and fly back north in time for the brief arctic summer and a new breeding season.

A key part of the migration period is the stop-overs. These are coastal wetlands such as estuaries where up to 500,000 shorebirds at a time may crowd into to feed and rest. At least 11 major stop-overs have been identified on the West Atlantic Flyway and are designated as Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserves.

Setting up cannon net, Argentina
Setting up a cannon net in southern Argentina.
Photo: P. Gonzales
WASA Members
WASA team 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 preservation network. All participants are dedicated in their efforts of broadening and strengthening the knowledge base regarding the migration of shorebirds along the Western Atlantic Flyway. The work of these individuals is crucial to the protection of migratory birds and their seasonally patterned flights. WASA's research is also important to current work aimed at preserving the stopover points 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 Banding Project which is being led by Professor Allan Baker, Canada and Patricia Gonzales, Argentina. This project is colour-banding Red Knots, Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones in an effort to establish their population sizes and recruitment rates.

Banding shorebirds
Banding a shorebird.
Photo: Heather Wiggins
But Why a WASA?
The study and management of migratory shorebirds requires an extension of efforts 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 are formed as a result of this concentration of study in a few specific areas. It is these voids that must be filled in order to achieve higher levels of conservation and preservation. 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 the numerous efforts to research and monitor shorebirds and to manage human impact on their habitat should be integrated in a more meaningful way, one that would avoid data duplication and could be used for management purposes.
Releasing banded shorebird
Releasing a banded Willet, Delaware.
Photo: Heather Wiggins
Our Mission
  1. To promote the conservation and management of shorebird 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 relate data to management implications.
  5. To aid in public education by making information about shorebird migration and habitat conservation, 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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© 1999 Western Atlantic Shorebird Association