World Environment Community Health Animals Celebrity Submit A Site Find A Charity
Radar is game changer in saving endangered birds


1346 days ago   Article ID# 1508647
Original URL


American Bird Conservancy

REDMOND, WASHINGTON (msnbc.com) - A portable radar system combined with night vision goggles and thermal imaging cameras are helping scientists find and protect a rare bird in the Caribbean, a conservation group explained Monday.

While none of these technologies are new, they are now inexpensive enough to do more than track airplanes and find thugs hiding behind enemy lines.

In the case of the Black-capped petrel, the tools are helping researchers pinpoint nesting grounds on Hispanola, the island shared between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

"These birds spend almost all of their time at sea and then they nest in cliff tops far into densely wooded areas," Jessica Hardesty Norris, the seabird program director for the American Bird Conservancy, told me.

The nests – only four of which have ever been found – are burrowed about five feet into the ground.

Locating the nests is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, the researchers said. The process is complicated by the fact that the birds don't make verbal noise as they fly, and that they fly at night.

But if they can find the nests, they can begin to figure out what's hindering Black-capped petrel breeding success and devise strategies to protect them.

"Are the trees being cut down? Are there introduced predators that are eating the chicks?" Adam Brown, a senior biologist with Environmental Protection in the Caribbean, told me.

"Until we find where the nesting is taking place, we can't get at those questions. So, the radar has really given us the foundation to begin conservation of the bird," he added.

The radar system is mounted on a truck and able to pick up individual birds as they fly in from the sea and head towards their breeding grounds.

This January, the scientists parked their pickup truck on the coast and caught birds as they came in from the ocean. They then moved further inland, and caught them circling above nesting grounds.

Over consecutive nights, Brown explained, they team devised a system where the radar techs would locate a bird, then radio to lookouts who used night vision goggles and thermal imaging cameras to watch as the birds flew to nesting areas.

While night vision goggles and thermal imaging are fairly common tools to find nocturnal birds, "the radar really changes the game," Norris said.

Now that team has tested out the tools on known nesting regions for the rare birds, they plan to start looking for birds in other regions, hopefully establishing a wider range and pinpointing nests for further study.

Brown, who has used radar previously to study the marbled murlett, an endangered seabird, in northern California, said he expects radar the technology to become more widespread among biologists.

It could be useful, for example, to study insects and bats. More sophisticated radar systems, such as those used by the National Weather Service, he noted, could even be used to monitor bird migrations.

"They'll be able to figure out when are thousands and millions of birds migrating over the Gulf of Mexico, for instance," he said. "And we'll be able to monitor it all remotely."

Copyright 2015 msnbc.com   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 1346 days ago   Article ID# 1508647

American Bird Conservancy    View Charity Profile    Visit Website

More American Bird Conservancy News

Critically endangered bird gets new addition to its reserve

273 days ago From news.mongabay.com 


Protected Habitat Doubles for Magnificent and Endangered Blue-throated Macaw

679 days ago From Surfbirds News 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - Several organizations and individuals teamed up to achieve this historic conservation result: American Bird Conservancy, Patricia and David ...

Cerulean Warbler To Benefit From Acquisition Of Key Colombian Habitat

1037 days ago From The Chattanoogan 

CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE - The Cerulean Warbler, a bird whose population has declined by about 70 ... two-year effort by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Fundaci=F3n ProAves to ...

U.S. tree-nesting sea bird said in decline

1069 days ago From UPI.com 

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - "This study confirms the fears that many conservationists have held for years," Steve Holmer, a policy analyst for the American Bird Conservancy, said. ...

Imperiled Birds To Benefit From Land Purchase In Key Peruvian National Reserve

1090 days ago From The Chattanoogan 

CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE - ... Mishana National Reserve by ProNaturaleza (a leading Peruvian conservation organization) in collaboration with American Bird Conservancy (ABC). ...

Go to page:   1    2  3  4  5  Next >> 

<< Return To Animal News

Action Center

Climate change endangers Antarctica's iconic species

Action: Climate Change

Antarctica is best described in superlatives: It is the coldest, windiest, driest and highest continent on Earth - along with ...

Defend Joshua Tree from massive dewatering

Action: Wildlife Conservation

Home to desert tortoises, bighorn sheep and numerous rare and imperiled plants, Southern California's Joshua Tree National Pa ...

Half the world’s primates are threatened with extinction

Action: Stop Deforestation

More than half of the world’s monkeys, apes, lemurs, and other primates are now threatened by extinction, a group of internat ...

Stop oil trains in the Northwest

Action: Stop Pollution

In the wake of Keystone XL's rejection, oil companies anxious to reroute their toxic assets have set their sights on pushing ...

Preservatives from cosmetics build up in the bodies of far-flung marine mammals

Action: Save Our Oceans

Compounds from our makeup and bathrooms are winding up in the bodies of dolphins, sea otters, and polar bears – sometimes tho ...

View All Actions >>





Follow Us


Find A Charity

Action Center




Twitter Support



Add A Site




Privacy Policy






Terms of Service

Copyright © The Charity Vault All rights reserved.