On Tuesday, San Diego Audubon Society lead students from Mendoza Elementary School in Imperial Beach on a field trip to Tijuana Estuary to visit the breeding area of a federally-listed threatened bird species, the Western Snowy Plover. As participants in San Diego Audubon’s “Share our Shores” project, these students are now advocates for the protection of these birds, who nest along the South Bay coastline at Silver Strand and Tijuana River Estuary each year from March through September.
Participating “Share our Shores” students from schools in the South Bay and Coronado School Districts received in-class lessons about the biology and conservation of resident and migratory shorebirds such as the Western Snowy Plover, and the endangered California Least Tern. Then, using colored pencils and markers, over 150 children from Central, Imperial Beach, Mendoza, and Silver Strand Elementary schools designed signs to alert visitors not to disturb the coastal dunes and the birds’ nests.
One student design from each of the five participating “Share our Shores” project classes was chosen for production. The selected signs included messaging such as “We are living things too, just like you! Share the beach!” and “Help us Live”. San Diego Audubon staff coordinated with personnel from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges and California State Parks to have the student designed signage installed last month, along Western Snowy Plover nesting sites at Silver Strand State Beach, Tijuana River Estuary, and Border Field State Park.
Tuesday’s field trip gave Mendoza Elementary students the chance to see the nesting birds and their native coastal dune habitat up close, as well as the chance to see their classmates’ signs in place to help protect the birds.
San Diego Audubon, in partnership with Audubon California and Los Angeles Audubon Society, was funded by a Whale Tail Grant from the California Coastal Commission to run the project in San Diego this year. San Diego Audubon education manager Rebekah Angona said, “There are only about 2,400 Western Snowy Plovers remaining along the Pacific Coast. The signs designed by local children remind everyone to allow these birds to remain undisturbed in their nesting area during breeding season.”
—San Diego Audubon Society