There’s an excellent article out now with a blog introduction from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center: Saving Migratory Birds — The Quest for Knowledge vs. the Ticking Clock:
At the end of summer each year, birds from forests across North America leave their breeding grounds and travel thousands of miles, through all kinds of weather, over mountains and oceans, to their wintering grounds in the tropics.
Since it is such a long and demanding trip, they will need to stop in unfamiliar habitats to find food and rest before continuing on their journey to a tropical land that is quite different from the temperate one they left behind. In 5 to 8 months, they will start the journey again, in reverse. It happens every year, and yet we understand so little about the journey and the birds who undertake it.
The survival of migratory birds can be limited by both time and space in many ways, so understanding the complexity of how they use their habitat is critical. This complexity is evident when considering breeding grounds and winter habitats can be thousands of miles apart and involves a variety of unknown stopover sites where birds can rest and feed during migration.
It’s written for migratory birds of the Western Hemisphere (birds of the Nearctic-Neotropics, as opposed to the Birds of the Palearctic and Africa), but the lessons there are applicable to the Eastern Hemisphere as well. And it’s a great introduction to bird conservation. Be sure to read the review (bottom of SMBC article, and cited here below), it’s a great learning opportunity regarding conservation biology.
- Conserving migratory land birds in the New World: Do we know enough? John Faaborg, Richard T. Holmes, Angela D. Anders, Keith L. Bildstein, Katie M. Dugger, Sidney A. Gauthreaux Jr., Patricia Heglund, Keith A. Hobson, Alex E. Jahn, Douglas H. Johnson, Steven C. Latta, Douglas J. Levey, Peter P. Marra, Christopher L. Merkord, Erica Nol, Stephen I. Rothstein, Thomas W. Sherry, T. Scott Sillett, Frank R. Thompson III, Nils Warnock. Ecological Applications 2010 20:2, 398-418.