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Conservationists seek to identify prime stopover sites for migrating birds
Date:5/11/2009

An ambitious effort in avian conservation is underway this spring throughout the New York portion of the Lake Ontario watershed.

A legion of highly skilled volunteer ornithologists is helping a team of scientists to identify the best stopover sites for migrating birds in the southern coastal zone of Lake Ontario. The study specifically focuses on Neotropical migrants. These songbirds summer in the subarctic part of Canada through northern New York and winter in Central America and the northern part of South America.

The fieldwork conducted by the volunteers will help verify a model that uses geographic information systems technology to select optimal resting locations based on distance from the lakeshore and the extent and diversity of wood cover.

A pilot phase funded with $35,000 from the Nature Conservancy and in-kind support from the Audubon Society began the last week of April and will run through the end of May. The effort anticipates the launch this fall of a federally funded three-year project to be administered by the Nature Conservancy.

"Conservation of migratory birds requires the protection of a network of stopover sites where birds can rest and put on weight for the next leg of the journey," says John Waud, professor of environmental science at RIT and lead scientist on the study. "These sites have to be rich in food and have cover so the birds aren't exposed to predators when eating. They need a lot of these stopover sites and these sites are the focus of conservation right now for migratory bird species."

Migrating birds travel several hundred miles to their destinations. Radar shows that birds fly approximately 10 hours at night at 30 miles per houror 200 to 300 miles a night. According to Waud, as much as 85 percent of deaths in migratory bird populations occur while bird are flying en route to their wintering or breeding grounds. The conservation of stopover sites is critical to migrating birds.


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Contact: Susan Gawlowicz
smguns@rit.edu
585-475-5061
Rochester Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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