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American Oystercatcher Breeding Distribution and Population Estimate in North Carolina Susan Cameron and David Allen NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

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Presentation on theme: "American Oystercatcher Breeding Distribution and Population Estimate in North Carolina Susan Cameron and David Allen NC Wildlife Resources Commission."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Oystercatcher Breeding Distribution and Population Estimate in North Carolina Susan Cameron and David Allen NC Wildlife Resources Commission

2 Introduction 2004 represents the first year NC has conducted a coast-wide survey for breeding oystercatchers In the past, breeding surveys have been focused at just a few sites –complete surveys along Cape Hatteras National Seashore beginning in 1999 –complete surveys along Cape Lookout National Seashore beginning in 1998

3 AMOY Breeding Population Trends at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Marcia Lyons, NPS year # pairs average

4 AMOY Breeding Population Trends at Cape Lookout National Seashore Jeff Cordes, NPS year # pairs average

5 Introduction 2004 represents the first year NC has conducted a coast-wide survey for breeding oystercatchers In the past, breeding surveys have been focused at just a few sites –complete surveys along Cape Hatteras National Seashore beginning in 1999 –complete surveys along Cape Lookout National Seashore beginning in 1998 This presentation will focus on the 2004 surveys

6 General Description of Coast NC’s coastline extends approximately 311 miles from VA to SC NC has distinct northern and southern regions –North of Cape Lookout characterized by large back barrier sounds and long barrier islands with few inlets –South of Cape Lookout characterized by small back barrier sounds and short barrier islands with numerous inlets Human disturbance and predation is a concern at most barrier island sites and some estuarine sites

7 Currituck Sound – primarily fresh and has no inlets to the ocean and no dredge islands; beach front has very little overwash and heavy human disturbance Pamlico Sound – large brackish sound with three inlets; dredge islands around inlets; east side has narrow barrier islands subject to overwash and the west is extensive brackish marshes Because the tides are primarily wind driven in northern sounds, intertidal flats are not extensive except for areas adjacent to inlets Northern Coast

8 Core Sound and smaller southern sounds – high saline estuaries with lunar driven tides From Morehead City south is a chain of dredge islands created during the construction on the AIWW in the 1930s Groups of dredge islands also clustered around inlets and in the Cape Fear River Shell rakes present along estuaries south of Morehead City Southern Coast

9 NC Survey Areas Morehead City

10 Methods Most surveys conducted in conjunction with this year’s colonial waterbird surveys and piping plover surveys (from early May – early July) Surveyed additional areas along AIWW and Core Sound by boat and on foot Covered portions of Pamlico/Albemarle Sounds by air with some ground truthing

11 Results 337 pairs of oystercatchers counted Majority found in southern half of NC Many found on remaining undeveloped barrier islands (e.g. Masonboro, Core Banks, Hatteras)

12 County# Territorial Pairs # Non-territorial Pairs # Single Birds Total Brunswick New Hanover Pender Onslow Carteret Hyde Dare Total Population Estimate of Breeding American Oystercatchers in North Carolina

13 2004 Distribution American Oystercatchers by Nesting Habitat in NC Counties # pairs county

14 2004 Distribution American Oystercatchers by Nesting Habitat in NC Counties County Barrier Island Beach Natural Island Dredge Spoil IslandOtherTotal Sand BankShell BankMarsh Brunswick New Hanover Pender Onslow Carteret Hyde Dare Total165 (50%)69 (21%)27 (8%)13 (4%)48 (15%)5 (2%)327

15 Future Work Hope to repeat coast-wide surveys every few years so can begin assessing state- wide trends in abundance and distribution Increase protection efforts at some sites (e.g. Masonboro Island)

16 Records of NC Breeders Banded on Wintering Grounds Sunset Beach –1 banded in SC in 2001 Wrightsville Beach –1 banded in SC in 2002 North Topsail/New River Inlet –2 banded in SC in 2004 –1 banded in GA in 2003

17 Acknowledgments We are extremely grateful to Walker Golder with NC chapter of National Audubon for all of his help with the surveys Special thanks to Marcia Lyons of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Jeff Cordes of Cape Lookout National Seashore and Shiloh Schulte of NC State University for providing their breeding data Many thanks also to staff of various State Parks and to the many volunteers who contributed to survey efforts


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