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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

From The Guardian:

Migratory Connectivity Project: Songbirds Return to North America
Saturday 4 July 2015 11.35 EDT

The Migratory Connectivity Project seeks to connect people and cultures throughout the Americas by fostering the public’s love of and appreciation for migratory birds

Long-billed curlew, Numenius americanus, takes a rest stop at Padre Island National Seashore. Photograph: Padre Island National Seashore (Public domain).

Did you know the coast of Texas is a critically important place for migratory birds in the U.S. and Canada? This is where most migratory birds that breed in the eastern United States and throughout Canada first make landfall after a long migration across the Gulf of Mexico. This is where they seek food, water and rest before continuing northward on their migratory journeys.

But unfortunately, populations of North American migratory birds are declining, and in many cases, scientists aren’t exactly sure why. The Migratory Connectivity Project, a collaboration between the US Geological Survey bird banding lab and Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, is devoted to better understanding the migratory patterns of North American birds so they can learn how to protect them. They do this by analysing USGS bird band recovery data and using this data to construct migratory connectivity maps for all birds breeding in North America. Here’s a preliminary map for the tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor:

A preliminary migratory connectivity map for the tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor. Data used to construct this map provided by USGS. Composite: Migratory Connectivity Project

Further, the Migratory Connectivity Project also is utilising new technologies to track migratory birds, linking populations of birds so they can learn how to protect them from threats throughout their entire life cycle, and they work to connect people and cultures throughout the Americas by fostering the public’s appreciation for migratory birds.

In this inspirational video, we follow Pete Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center as he and his team travel to North Padre Island, a small barrier island that is part of the much larger Padre Island National Seashore. This national park is the second largest island in the United States, and it protects 70 miles of critical coastal habitats needed by endangered species such as Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, and by 380 species of birds. Padre Island also isolates a narrow stretch of water from the Gulf of Mexico; forming one of the few hypersaline lagoons in the world:

Every year, Dr Marra and his team travel to North Padre Island to study songbirds that are returning to North America from their tropical wintering ranges in the Caribbean, and in Central and South America. They also share this experience with local schoolchildren because this is critical to the birds’ long-term survival. They teach their students about the value of connectivity.

“What we want to communicate to people is that ‘your back yard is tied to a back yard in Guatemala’”, said Dr Marra.

“We’re all linked.”

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