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Our 100-year legacy of protecting birds along the Gulf Coast has renewed emphasis with the launch of Audubon’s new strategic plan. The plan is bringing unprecedented focus to our work as we look at conservation on a “flyway scale” to impact bird populations at a hemispheric level. Some recent successes in the Gulf States include:
In Texas, Audubon’s coastal stewards monitor and protect 178 Audubon island sanctuaries that stretch across 70 percent of the western coast of the Gulf, preserving habitat for more than 20 species of colonial waterbirds, including the largest Reddish Egret and Roseate Spoonbill colonies in the world. Audubon Texas has initiated the Texas Estuarine Resource Network (TERN) initiative, a volunteer and citizen science outreach program focusing on supporting coastal birds and other wildlife on the Texas coast.
Texas Coastal Conservation
Louisiana’s Paul J. Rainey Sanctuary, Audubon’s oldest and largest sanctuary, protects 26,000 acres of coastal beach, marsh and chenier upland for large flocks of wintering shorebirds, including the threatened Piping Plover, as well as masses of waterfowl and reintroduced endangered Whooping Cranes. Audubon Louisiana developed a coastal bird stewardship program partnering with other organizations and local officials to manage nesting colonies on Grand Isle and Cameron Parish, Louisiana.
Louisiana Coastal Conservation Efforts
Audubon wardens in Florida monitor, post, and patrol 28 islands on the Gulf’s eastern extreme that host some 50,000 breeding pairs of birds from 29 species – among the largest and most diverse coastal bird populations in the state. Hundreds of trained Audubon volunteers under the guidance of professional staff steward sites all along the coast of the state. Deepwater Horizon spill-related funds from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are already bolstering Audubon’s crucial coastal bird protections along the Gulf coast of Florida.
Florida Gulf Restoration
More than 75 percent of the Least Terns nesting in coastal Mississippi do so under the protection of Audubon staff and volunteers. In response to the oil spill in 2010, Audubon Mississippi also launched the Audubon Coastal Bird Survey, a citizen--‐science effort to establish baselines, behaviors, and threat responses of waterbirds along the Gulf Coast. Audubon Mississippi received National Fish and Wildlife Foundation monies through grants made to the state to build out a robust coastal bird conservation program.
Mississippi Gulf Restoration
Audubon has worked with our Alabama chapters, Birmingham Audubon Society (BAS) and Mobile Bay Audubon Society (MBAS), to implement coastal bird conservation. The chapters have worked for decades on conservation, education, outreach and citizen science, building their own programs through the efforts of volunteers and supporting national efforts, including Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. During the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, the National Audubon Society hired a volunteer manager to help guide Audubon Coastal Bird Survey volunteers in Alabama and to implement invasive species removal and habitat management on Dauphin Island, one of the state’s key coastal Important Bird Areas.
Birmingham Audubon Society
Mobile Bay Audubon Society