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Identifying Important Migratory Landbird Stopover Sites in the Northeast

Identifying Important Migratory Landbird Stopover Sites in the Northeast

Dozens of species of landbirds, such as warblers, hummingbirds, and orioles, migrate through the Northeastern United States from their summer breeding grounds in the U.S. and Canada to their nonbreeding grounds as far south as South America. During the migration period, birds must find habitat where they can stop, rest and replenish their energy reserves. Conservation efforts are increasingly focused on identifying stopover sites that are important for sustaining migratory landbird populations. This project will build upon prior work by the University of Delaware and USGS to use weather surveillance data and field surveys to map and predict important migratory bird stopover sites.

Dozens of species of landbirds, such as warblers, hummingbirds, and orioles, migrate through the Northeastern United States as they journey between their summer breeding grounds in the U.S. and Canada and their nonbreeding grounds as far south as South America. During the migration period, birds must find habitat where they can stop, rest and replenish their energy reserves. The migration period is one of the most perilous stages in the life cycle for birds, and conservation efforts are increasingly focused on identifying stopover sites that are important for sustaining migratory landbird populations. This project will build upon prior work by the University of Delaware and USGS to use weather surveillance data and field surveys to map and predict such areas.

 Specific steps in this project are:

  1. Calibrate NEXRAD weather surveillance radar data of bird stopover density by collecting ground survey data of bird identities and densities.
  2. Improve NEXRAD-based models of important stopover sites for the Northeast by incorporating two more years of radar data, a more sophisticated modeling method, and better explanatory variables.
  3. Validate the updated NEXRAD-based predictive statistical models for the Northeast using ground survey and (as available) NASA radar observations.
  4. Assess habitat use of migrants in relation to food abundance, habitat and landscape features in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain.


LCC Staff Contact: Scott Schwenk

The project team provided the LCC with an new interim report at the end of 2014. We caution that results at this stage are still preliminary and subject to change. The report may be viewed here. Field data collection is complete, and bird density calculations are 50% complete. Data processing is 85% complete. A postdoctoral researcher is currently conducting the modeling analysis.

A project update presentation from September 2014 is available as a PDF. The accompanying narrative update is also available.

Buler and Arnold have presented on the project at several meetings and conferences, including the 2014 North American Congress for Conservation Biology and the 2014 Joint Meeting of the Northeast and Southeast Partners in Flight. 

Scope of Work - Migratory Landbird Radar Study

Buler Agroecology Lab Website

InstitutionFunding
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), FY13

$165,000

U.S. FWS, NWRS, FY14 $53,121
U.S. FWS, NWRS, FY15 $25,885
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Program $15,000
North Atlantic LCC $75,000
Maryland Department of Natural Resources $34,800
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality $33,922
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries $35,490
University of Delaware in kind contributions
USGS in kind contributions
NASA in kind contributions
Old Dominion University in kind contributions
The Nature Conservancy in kind contributions

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