Seabird Monitoring Program

Seeks Vineyard Volunteers

The Martha’s Vineyard Senior Environmental Corps and Massachusetts Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary at Felix Neck are teaming up with the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Seabird Ecological Assessment Network to study the health of seabirds on the Island through beached bird surveys conducted by volunteers.

Tufts faculty will offer training to volunteers on Wednesday, Dec. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Felix Neck sanctuary in Edgartown.

Survey volunteers will walk designated stretches of beach once or twice per month in search of dead birds and record their findings. The surveys will provide baseline information about bird health in this region and help identify and monitor mass mortality events caused by environmental contamination.

“Because seabirds are so sensitive to petroleum and other pollution, they are excellent indicators of environmental health,” said Dr. Julie Ellis of the Tufts Department of Environmental and Population Health. “The surveys our volunteers conduct are important because they will help us detect diseases and contaminants that threaten both animal and human health.”

Noting that regular die-offs of common eiders have occurred on the Vineyard during the past couple of years, Ms. Ellis hopes that more people will join efforts to help document the timing of these mortality events and determine the causes.

To register and to obtain specific information about the training schedule, get in touch with Suzan Bellincampi at Felix Neck Audubon by e-mail at or by calling 508-627-4850.