At nine, Xavier Sandlos is the Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey’s youngest volunteer.
Xavier Sandlos is one of a number of volunteer birdwatchers in Atlantic Canada collecting information to help biologists working to conserve species experiencing declining populations.
The Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey (ACSS) is run by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS).
Xavier has a unique distinction from the other volunteer birdwatchers, however. At nine years old, he’s the ACSS's youngest participant.
“There are a lot of people that live in Atlantic Canada. ACSS is a very fun thing to do and it helps scientific research, so that’s pretty cool,” Xavier said in a news release.
“And you learn stuff!”
Xavier and his mother, Yolanda Wiersma, started volunteering with ACSS in 2015 when Yolanda saw a note from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) looking for volunteers on Random Island, where their family has a cabin at Elliott’s Cove.
“We have fun doing it together,” said Yolanda. “I’ve never been good at shorebirds, but I’m learning about shorebirds through Xavier. I like being outdoors and I am learning a lot about identification.”
Shorebirds travel thousands of kilometres between their breeding grounds in the north and their wintering grounds in the south.
The CWS is looking for help in understanding the migratory birds that stopover along shores in the Atlantic provinces.
ACSS sites can be beaches, tidal flats, saltmarshes, freshwater marshes, andsometimes even fields and heathlands.
Volunteers are asked to visit their designated observation post once every ten days to collect information about the birds they see there.
ACSS data sheets and site maps are provided to volunteers. Binoculars, a pen and pencil, and a clipboard or field book are also needed. A spotting scope would come in handy but is optional.
Of course, a healthy dose of enthusiasm is also essential.
More information about the Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey is available by contacting Julie Paquet by email email@example.com or by phone 506-364-5037.