Do you hear that? That’s the sound of five happy whimbrels twittering around the Hudson Bay in Canada.
After much anticipation, the chatty shorebirds we introduced on Cool Green Science last week — Boxer, Fowler, Elki, Indi and Hope — have made great time and touched down to hopefully breed in central Canada.
“There’s been no repeat Winnie flight to Alaska this year!” says Barry Truitt, chief conservation scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve.
“Winnie, our tagged bird from last year’s project, raised a lot of questions about whimbrels that stopover on Virginia’s Eastern Shore when she migrated all the way to Alaska. However, this spring, our birds are right on track to confirm the anticipated connection between the lower Delmarva Peninsula and the Eastern breeding population of whimbrels.”
After a short pit stop on the eastern Great Lakes, three of the tagged birds — Hope, Indi and Boxer — are currently scouting out the western shoreline of James Bay and the interior lowlands west of Hudson Bay in Ontario, looking for suitable mates.
Fowler and Elki appear to have been blown east by a strong cold front but successfully made correction flights and are now thawing out and looking for love in Manitoba, along the western side of Hudson Bay.
All of our birds are lucky enough to be spending this time in the emerald-green Canadian boreal forest, an especially important habitat for many types of migratory birds. The Nature Conservancy is working with a large coalition of partners to conserve 50 percent of the 1.4-billion-acre forest as protected areas and manage the rest under sustainable land-use methods.
So what’s next for our whimbrel friends once they’re done nesting in Canada?
Truitt is hoping for a late July or August reunion back at Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where he expects the birds to stage before heading south for winter. Ultimately, they will likely head to warmer weather in northern South America.
The birds’ satellite transmitters can transmit data for up to three years, so researchers are watching closely to see where they travel next. And thanks to the Web, you can, too!
*NEWS FLASH* This just in … we’ve gotten a tip that one of our whimbrels is on the move! Check back soon for more info.
Maddy Breen is a marketing specialist with The Nature Conservancy based in Arlington, VA.
(Image: a tagged whimbrel. Source: Barry Truitt/TNC.)