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Red Knot Migration

Technology is informing conservation strategies
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Thanks to radio transmitters, scientists have vastly increased their knowledge of Red Knot migration patterns. For example, the vast majority of Red Knots on the Pacific Coast rely on a small number of places to rest and feed during spring migration from Mexico to the Arctic. Those locations include Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor in Washington State and the Copper River Delta in Alaska. Such detailed information makes it possible to make informed choices that protect critical stopover habitat.

Today’s show is brought to you by White Flower Farm, a family-owned mail order nursery offering a wide range of perennials, annuals, and shrubs for early summer planting.

Full Transcript



Red Knot Migration

Written by Todd Peterson

This is BirdNote.

[Red Knots 137542]

In 2013, biologists with the US Fish and Wildlife Service fitted 50 Red Knots with radio transmitters. In spring, these sturdy sandpipers migrate through the vast waterland of the Copper River Delta in Southeast Alaska. Researchers flying in small planes seek them out, listening intently for a signal.

Tracking by transmitter and yellow leg-flags has helped us learn a lot about the journeys of these long-distance migrants. We now know the vast majority of them on the Pacific coast rely on a very small number of places to rest and feed on their journey north from Mexico. Those locations are Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor in Washington State and the Copper River Delta in Alaska.

Although on such long journeys, the birds can’t predict bad weather ahead, they can adapt. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in 2010 a Red Knot equipped with a geolocator made a 600-mile detour to avoid exhausting headwinds. Another bird dodged a tropical storm by flying almost 2,500 miles around it.  

It's information about the precise movements of these birds that allows us to make informed choices about protecting those places birds rely on most. [Red Knots 137542}

For BirdNote, I'm Michael Stein.


Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Red Knot [137542] recorded by Gerrit Vyn. 'Surf, Moderate Sandy' Nature SFX 23 recorded by Gordon Hempton of 
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to  June 2017  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# REKN-02-2015-06-22 REKN-02

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