June 15, 2018

The first prairie warbler that our science staff caught this season was one of the geolocator equipt birds from 2 years ago. They were unable to catch it last year.


By Neil Gifford, Conservation Director

Our science staff are collaborating with researchers at University of Massachusetts at Amherst to learn about the migration schedules and locations of prairie warblers during the non-breeding season.

To gather this information, Conservation Biologist Steve Campbell with the help of Conservation Director Neil Gifford, Field Ecologist Amanda Dillon, and Avian Field Technician Tom Williams fitted 25 prairie warblers in the preserve with geolocators in 2016. Eleven of the birds returned in 2017 with their geolocators. We were able to catch and recover geolocators from 10 birds and we obtained usable data from eight geolocators. Preliminary analysis suggests that birds from the preserve are overwintering on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in Haiti and Dominican Republic. It appears most individuals took about two months to reach these locations in the fall of 2016, but they completed the return spring 2017 trip in about two weeks. Most individuals moved south along the eastern U.S. to the southern tip of Florida before crossing the ocean to Cuba and then to Haiti and Dominican Republic; they returned along the same path. Two individuals appeared to reach the overwintering grounds by flying directly across the ocean from the northeastern U.S. to the Caribbean. These individuals, however, returned to the breeding grounds along the same route as the other birds. Further analyses of these data are in progress.

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