Tracking Birds Year-round
Researchers are using cutting-edge tracking technology to follow and study the same individual songbirds as they migrate from wintering grounds in the Bahamas to their breeding grounds in North America. This is a first for a migratory bird.
Using an endangered migratory songbird, the Kirtland’s warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) as a study species, our researchers are investigating how winter weather and habitat in the Bahamas influences body condition, spring migration timing, migration survival and reproductive success on Michigan breeding grounds.
Both climate change induced drought and sea level rise pose serious threats to Kirtland’s warblers. Despite these looming threats, we do not understand precisely how winter weather and habitat interact to affect migration timing and reproductive success. We also do not have direct estimates of survival during migration for Kirtland’s warblers or any other species of songbird.
Only by understanding these relationships can we predict the effects of climate change and make informed conservation decisions to ensure that endangered Kirtland’s warblers, or any other common species, are sustainable for generations to come.