Shorebirds are thought to be declining across North America but trend analyses for migrant shorebirds at interior sites in eastern North America have not been updated since the late 1990s. Data from a volunteer-based survey at stopover sites throughout Ontario were used to assess population trends of shorebirds over the period 1974–2009. Surveyors carried out 7,135 surveys of 258 sites and recorded 538,744 individuals of 43 shorebird species. Of 19 taxa for which trends were estimated, 17 appeared to be declining in abundance. Precision of the trend estimates was generally poor and only three declines were significant at α = 0.05. Total numbers of shorebirds recorded on surveys declined by four per cent per year, resulting in an estimated decrease in abundance of greater than 75% over the 35 years of observation. Rate of decline may be increasing for some species as declines for twelve species were larger for the period 1989–2009 vs. 1974–1989, and six species showed significant declines in the latter period whereas none did in the former period. Relating these declines in abundance at the surveyed sites to population declines is complicated by several potential sources of survey bias including changes in turnover rates and in migration timing and distributions of the species. However, given that these results are consistent with those of other migration surveys as well as those on the breeding and the wintering grounds, the most parsimonious explanation remains a widespread decline in shorebird populations.
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Vol. 35 • No. 1