On June 15, 2023, the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) designated Vieques Island as an Important Shorebird Site. Over 20,000 shorebirds a year visit Vieques to feed and rest on their migration or even spend the winter there. Of regional significance, Vieques hosts over 2% of the world’s Caribbean subpopulation of Wilson’s Plover, a bird of conservation concern. Vieques joins 41 Important Shorebird Sites in the Caribbean.
The designation is based on data collected from the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge and the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust bird surveys. Daphne Gemmill initiated the surveys in 1983, and in recent years has been joined by Erick Bermúdez and Cesar Montero.
Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), a partnership-driven conservation initiative for protecting critical habitats for shorebirds throughout the Americas, was launched in 1985. Its executive offices are at Manomet, a Massachusetts non-profit, that is considered a world leader in shorebird conservation. Manomet staff provides WHSRN site partners with training and expertise in conservation planning, good governance, community engagement, ecosystem service assessment, habitat management, shorebird monitoring, and fundraising.