As a critical site for migratory shorebirds, Delaware Bay became the first Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) site, in 1986. Since 1997, biologists on Delaware Bay have been conducting extensive shorebird research, including banding, to guide conservation actions. On Delaware Bay, as at many sites, community engagement is a critical component of conservation efforts. Community engagement activities here include environmental education, beach stewardship, beach signage, volunteer and citizen science activities, and nature-based tourism. Thanks to predictable concentrations of shorebirds, festivals are also a successful activity on Delaware Bay, and there are four separate regularly occurring shorebird festivals in May.
In May 2017, the CEC supported two site exchanges to Delaware Bay to increase capacity of participants and build relationships that strengthen the North American Pacific and Atlantic flyway networks. Four representatives from Dorchester, New Brunswick, Canada, took part in a site exchange, participating in two festivals and meeting with local partners and community leaders. The site representatives’ main goal was to use their Delaware Bay experience to build on and expand their Dorchester Shorebird Festival, which celebrates the shorebirds that stopover in the Bay of Fundy during fall migration. During the exchange, representatives were also able to learn about the other community engagement activities in the region, sparking additional ideas. Dorchester and Delaware Bay partners were interested in working together to have a long-term exchange and are considering joint projects.
A shorebird banding exchange included the participation of two Moose Cree First Nation representatives from James Bay, Ontario, Canada, and one US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) representative from Portland, Oregon. The Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) stewards a critical stopover site for migrating shorebirds on its homelands—the proposed James Bay WHSRN site. This site exchange was an opportunity for MCFN community leaders to experience conservation efforts in other places along the North American Atlantic flyway, in order to increase their capacity to support James Bay activities. The USFWS representative was focused on learning more about bird banding in order to expand it at the recently dedicated Willapa Bay WHSRN site in Washington, United States.