The birth of a commemorative day for shorebirds

Magellanic Plover is one of the most unique shorebirds with those bubble gum pink legs and striking red eyes. Tierra del Fuego, Chile. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Magellanic Plover is one of the most unique shorebirds with those bubble gum pink legs and striking red eyes. Tierra del Fuego, Chile. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Earlier this month I sent out a proposal to about a hundred people worldwide, who are somehow related to shorebirds, either as researchers or conservationists. It was about setting a commemorative day for shorebirds. This special day is named as World Shorebirds Day and the 6th of September was selected.

The World Shorebirds Day doesn’t only reflect my addiction to shorebirds, but it’s much more than that. There is no a better time to set the bar to the next level, in raising the global public awareness of the need for the protection of shorebirds, than today. Nearly half of the world’s known shorebird populations are in decline, and the rate of habitat loss is worse than ever before.

Healthy populations of shorebirds mean healthy wetlands, what thousands of human lives depend on. Actions on a global level need to be organized to get people connected with shorebirds, their spectacular life and their habitats. To celebrate shorebirds, a series of events will be organized by different organizations, as well as individuals around the world on Saturday on the 6th of September 2014.

This blog is dedicated to this global public awareness project, where even the tiniest event will be reported.

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3 thoughts on “The birth of a commemorative day for shorebirds

  1. Greetings,

    ‘Shorebirds’ appears to be a general term, apparently most often used in North America. Its definition might seem obvious to you but there does appear to be a rather wide range of interpretations of the term. Just four examples from the ‘net are, as follows:
    – a bird that frequents the shore; or,
    – chiefly a wader of the order Charadriiformes, such as a sandpiper; or,
    – any of numerous wading birds that frequent mostly seashores and estuaries; or,
    – a bird frequenting seashores, estuaries, etc., esp. birds of the order Charadriiformes, as sandpipers, plovers, oystercatchers, and avocets, that probe or scan the shoreline for marine invertebrates; etc.

    Successful communication tends to require the participants to be very clear (ideally from the outset) about exactly what each other is talking about so I’m wondering what your definition of the term ‘shorebirds’ actually is? And how do you intend to explain this to your target audience, which presumably consists of birders, naturalists and anyone else who will listen?

    I appreciate that your first language may not be English but isn’t there the clear need for an apostrophe to be included in the name of this new commemorative day to give … World Shorebirds’ Day? (cf. April Fools’ Day, All Saints’ Day, etc.).

    Best wishes,

    Victoria

    • Thanks for your feedback. It has been an ‘issue’ for a very long time. Neither the term ‘shorebird’ nor the ‘wader’ is perfect if we think about the behaviour of this group of birds. While most of the waders wade, there are a few what don’t wade at all. Same with the shorebirds naming, as not all shorebirds are living on shores.

      This has beed discussed widely, yet the whole birding world knows what shorebirds mean. All in all it is a good point, what is worth to write about in one of the next blog posts.

      Indeed my first language is Hungarian and unfortunately my English is not as perfect as I would like to be. 🙂 Anyway, I followed naming of other commemorative days (e.g. World Sparrow Day, World Environment Day, World Migratory Bird Day etc.). World Day of Shorebirds? World Shorebirds’ Day? I don’t know. I ask my English teacher friend, Rick Simpson to comment on this.

      Best, Szimi

  2. “Hi Szimi. I tried to post on the site, but failed. Here is what I had written, please feel free to post it on my behalf. Cheers.

    Hi Szimi and Victoria.

    Nothing like being put on the spot!

    Firstly, the difference between the definitions ‘wader’ and ‘shorebird’ each side of the Atlantic is a little confusing. In the US and more widely around the world, they refer to ‘shorebirds’ as being those birds from the subfamily Charadrii (jacanas; painted-snipes; crab plover; oystercatchers; ibisbill; stilts and avocets; thick-knees; coursers and pratincoles; plovers; snipes, sandpipers and phalaropes; plains wanderer; seedsnipes; sheathbills), here in the UK we refer to these as ‘waders’. However in the USA ‘waders’ refers to any long legged bird that is a denizen of water habitats such as herons, storks etc. and likewise ‘shorebirds’ for UK birders are any bird that frequents the shoreline e.g. gulls, terns herons etc. hence the confusion.

    Wader Quest is a British based charity and that is why we chose to use ‘wader’ and not ‘shorebird’ in the name, although we readily acknowledge the widely used and accepted ‘shorebirds’ as being synonymous. I believe that the definition that Szimi is referring to in the title of his commemorative day is synonymous with the subfamily Charadrii. It is understandable that he would not want to call it ‘World Charadrii Day’ (this would cause even more confusion I’ll warrant) and as ‘shorebirds’ is more commonly used around the world and Szimi is not British, he has understandably plumped for the ‘shorebirds’’ moniker. (I also think that ‘World Waders’ Day’ would be likely to bring all sorts of strange folk out in rubber leggings up to their chests!)

    As far as the apostrophe is concerned Victoria is correct where ‘shorebirds’ means all shorebirds and is therefore plural. ‘World Shorebird Day’ would be equally valid and probably a better option, I feel.

    Cheers, Rick”

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