Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area includes 34 islands and peninsulas situated within the Greater Boston shoreline. In 2002, it was designated as a Massachusetts Important Bird Area (IBA) because it provides habitat for a significant number of colonial-nesting waterbirds, including Least Terns and Common Terns, which are both listed as species of special concern in the State of Massachusetts. The Islands also provide habitat for breeding wading birds like Snowy Egrets and Black-crowned Night-Herons which are, respectively, species of high and moderate continental conservation concern. American Oystercatchers, a high priority shorebird species with high conservation concern in the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, are recolonizing their historic range northward into Massachusetts and now have a substantial breeding population in the Islands. In addition, common eider, cormorants, several other wading and shorebird species, and gulls regularly nest on the Islands.
Through an excellent partnership with park staff, a local conservation biologist uses volunteers to annually monitor populations of colonial-nesting waterbirds that utilize this unique network of islands. Specifically, the goals of the monitoring program are to improve understanding of breeding waterbird – habitat relationships in the Islands and the effects of habitat changes and management actions (such as invasive plant control, predator control, or visitor restrictions) on waterbird species composition and abundance.
This program not only enhances our regional knowledge of factors affecting waterbird populations to ultimately support their long term conservation, but also encourages community involvement in park management and monitoring.
Northeast Temperate Network Coastal Bird Monitoring MaterialsClick on the links below to view protocols, reports, briefs, and other materials
Last updated: September 13, 2023