Roseate Tern with chick, Endangered.  Photo by Bill Byrne.
Roseate Tern with chick, Endangered. Photo by Bill Byrne.

Massachusetts supports populations and habitats of coastal waterbirds that are of global and continental significance, including over 15% of the world's population of Piping Plovers, 50% of the U.S. population of Roseate Terns, and some of the most important shorebird migration habitat along the Atlantic Coast.  Our breeding colonies of Common Terns and Least Terns are regionally significant.  Species such as Laughing Gulls, American Oystercatchers, Black-crowned Night-Herons, and Snowy Egrets are of management concern because of limited abundance or declining populations, restricted distribution, or specialized habitat.  Massachusetts' coastal waters provide migration and winter habitat for hundreds of thousands of waterbirds, including Common Loons, Long-tailed Ducks, and Common Eiders.  Our salt marshes support continentally significant breeding populations of Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows, one of the highest priority species identified in recent bird conservation strategies for the northeastern United States.

Over the past 30 years, MassWildlife has worked with a growing number of cooperators from state and federal agencies, county and municipal governments, private conservation groups, landowners, volunteers, private consultants, and universities to build and maintain effective conservation programs that monitor, protect, and restore populations and habitats of coastal waterbirds in Massachusetts.  MassWildlife works to coordinate statewide conservation efforts and monitoring programs, compile and disseminate census data, restore and protect important coastal nesting sites, provide technical assistance to landowners and other cooperators, and use regulatory tools to protect breeding populations of state-protected rare species and their habitats. 

Learn more about the Buzzards Bay Tern Restoration Program .

Population Monitoring

Read the most recent reports that summarize Massachusetts census data for Roseate Terns, Common Terns, Least Terns, Arctic Terns, Laughing Gulls, and Black Skimmers:

Report annual census data for terns, Laughing Gulls, and Black Skimmers using the Massachusetts Tern Census Form pdf format of    Massachusetts Tern Census Form  .

Read the most recent reports that summarize population monitoring data for Piping Plovers that breed in Massachusetts:

Report census data for Piping Plovers using the Massachusetts Piping Plover Census Form pdf format of    MA Plover Census Form 2012  and following the Instructions for Completing the Massachusetts Piping Plover Census Form pdf format of    MA Plover Census Form Instructions 2012  .

Wire predator exclosures placed around Piping Plover nests can sometimes reduce egg predation and enhance nest success.  Use of predator exclosures requires annual written authorization from MassWildlife and must conform to Guidelines for the Use of Predator Exclosures to Protect Piping Plover Nests pdf format of    Predatory Exclosures for Piping Plover Nests  .

Read Guidelines for Managing Recreational Use of Beaches to Protect Piping Plovers, Terns, and Their Habitats in Massachusetts. These were developed by MassWildlife to assist property owners and beach managers in protecting Piping Plovers, Least Terns, Roseate Terns, Common Terns, and Arctic Terns and their habitats, pursuant to Massachusetts' Endangered Species Act (MESA) and the rare species habitat provisions of Massachusetts' Wetlands Protection Act.

For information on regional and national recovery efforts for Piping Plovers, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northeast Region's Piping Plover web site.

For more in-depth information on regional Piping Plover population trends, read: 

The American Oystercatcher Working Group seeks to develop, support, and implement rangewide research and management efforts that promote the conservation of American Oystercatchers and their habitats.  Read the most recent reports that summarize population monitoring data for American Oystercatchers breeding in Massachusetts:

Massachusetts's coastal islands support dozens of nesting colonies of cormorants, gulls, and wading birds.  For more information read: