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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Super Shorebird

On September 28th I wrote about a banded Red Knot that I spotted at Brooklyn's Dead Horse Bay. I entered the banded bird information into an online form which was then forwarded to the appropriate organization. Last week I received an email from Patricia M. González a biologist with Global Flyway Network South America in Argentina requesting more information about the color and position of the bands. After sending her my digi-scoped images of the shorebird she sent me the following, amazing letter:

Hi Rob,

These pictures are very helpful, the flag is old and the yellow band is a big spiral one, now I am able to tell you that this bird was banded in Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina in one of the catches we had in November 2001. In that year we used the yellow spiral band to indentify juveniles, so we also know that this knot hatched in June-July 2001. This was just after a big decline of 40% of the population in Tierra del Fuego so its parents were survivors. Looking at the plumage and bill it seems to me it is a male (delayed moult into basic plumage and short bill) but I cannot be sure without a molecular sexing, however the date of your observation also suggest may be a male, indeed a good one (successful male breeders migrate later because they take care of the chicks in the Arctic while females desert).

Thanks so much, your pictures were really great providing good information!


A 10 year old bird?! I had no idea that Red Knots lived so long. The distance from the banding location in Argentina to Dead Horse Bay is approximately 6,500 miles. Add another 2,500 miles to its breeding grounds in the high arctic and this bird is flying approximately 9,000 miles twice a year. That means that the Dead Horse Bay Red Knot, in its 10 years of life, has accumulated 180,000 frequent flyer miles. This super shorebird bird is one amazing survivor.

Here's a Google Earth video I made that illustrates the flight from Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego to Dead Horse Bay:

1 comment:

Yojimbot said...

very cool story.

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