Welcome to ‘Saving Spoony’!

John O'Sullivan/RSPB; Spoon-billed Sandpiper chick

This is where you can find out all about the charismatic yet Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Regular updates will be posted on this page with news of what’s being done to conserve this quirky species. And by exploring the rest of this site, you can read about the major threats to the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, conservation efforts that are underway and how you can help to save Spoony!

Read the latest Species Guardian Action Update



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Update from the 2012 Spoon-billed Sandpiper expedition to Chukotka

Spoon-billed Sandpiper on the breeding grounds in Russia (Birds Russia)

The last relatively large breeding population of Spoon-billed Sandpiper is found around the village of Meinypil’gyno, in Chukotka in north-east Russia. BirdsRussia established a monitoring area there in 2003, when over 60 pairs were recorded. Since then the populations at this and most other breeding sites have declined rapidly. In response, a range of actions have been taken to help prevent the extinction of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, including a captive breeding programme that was initiated in 2011. Continue reading

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Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Bangladesh

Shorebird survey team in Bangladesh (Omar Sahadat)

The highest count of Spoon-billed Sandpiper anywhere in the world was made during a survey in Bangladesh in 1989, when 202 birds were seen on Moulevir Char and 55 on Char Piya, two islands in the Padma-Meghna delta. Since then its numbers have declined and there have been no counts of more than 100 birds. Continue reading

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Spoon-billed Sandpiper exhibition opens in the Russian Arctic

An exhibition called “Saving Spoon-billed Sandpiper” opened on 8th October 2012 in Anadyr, the main town in Chukotka region in the far north-east of Russia. The opening ceremony was attended by many influential local people and organisations, including the Governor of Chukotka, Roman Kopin. It coincided with a Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) meeting in Anadyr, so representatives from all Arctic countries were able to join the ceremony.

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Conserving the wintering Spoon-billed Sandpipers at the Min Jiang estuary in south-east China

Credit: Smith Sutibut

The Min Jiang estuary is located on the outskirts of Fuzhou, a large coastal city in Fujian Province, south-east China. On the southern side of the estuary is a 5 km long shoal of sand- and mudflats, which is an extremely rich feeding ground for migratory shorebirds, egrets and other waterbirds. This intertidal wetland supports important non-breeding populations of two Critically Endangered species, Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Chinese Crested Tern.

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East Asian Flyway coastal wetlands face an ecological crisis

Credit: HKBWS)

The rapid decline in the numbers of Spoon-billed Sandpiper is a reflection of an ecological crisis along the coast of East Asia. In 2011, the IUCN Species Survival Commission and IUCN Asia Regional Office commissioned an independent report to assess the state and condition of intertidal habitats along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, in response to growing concerns expressed by IUCN members over observed declines in biodiversity, the loss of ecological services, and an increase in ecological disasters.

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Schoolgirl helps to raise awareness of Spoony in China

Participant at the Fujian training workshop play the Spoon-billed Sandpiper migration game

Every year the entire global population of Spoon-billed Sandpiper travels through China on its north- and southwards migrations.  However, most of the millions of people who live in eastern China are unaware that this small wader, which is on the brink of extinction, relies on coastal wetlands in their country.

Over the past two years, BirdLife’s project “Saving Spoony’s Chinese wetlands” – supported by Disney Friends for Change – has worked to raise awareness of this species and of the value of coastal wetlands for birds and people.  The project has focussed on the two most important known sites for Spoon-billed Sandpiper in China, Rudong in Jiangsu Province and the Min Jiang Estuary in Fujian Province.

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Key information on Spoon-billed Sandpiper and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway

Spoon-billed Sandpiper has a naturally limited breeding range in north-east Russia, and migrates down the East Asian-Australasian Flyway to its main wintering grounds in Myanmar and Bangladesh.  The main threats to the species are habitat loss and hunting outside the breeding season.  For more information about its status and conservation requirements click here and here.

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YouTube video on the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project

Myanmar and Bangladesh support the largest non-breeding populations of Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the world. The Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project has been working since 2009 to conserve and conduct research on the population that winters along the coast of Bangladesh, especially on Sonadia Island. The video shows the project conducting surveys on the vast intertidal mudflats and taking action to protect Spoon-billed Sandpiper and other shorebirds. The project found that hunting of shorebirds is a serious problem, but since 2011 it has worked successfully to provide alternative income generation options for the hunters.

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Targeting hunters to save Spoon-billed Sandpiper

It is estimated that at least 220 Spoon-billed Sandpipers, about half the global population, winter in Myanmar’s Gulf of Martaban.

“Although not specifically targeted, Spoon-billed Sandpiper is regularly caught in nets that are set to catch other waders for food. Evidence suggests that this trapping is the most likely cause of the rapid recent declines of this species”, said Htin Hla, Chairman of BANCA. Continue reading

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Podcast with Christoph Zockler

A conversation with Dr Christoph Zockler of ArcCona Consulting and co-ordinator of the EAAFP Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force. Christoph talks about the conservation breeding programme, the work he’s done halting hunting of Spoon-billed Sandpipers on the wintering grounds, the threat of reclamation, and his hopes for the survival of this most charismatic and endangered shorebird.

To listen click here

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