Denali Education Center is thrilled to be supporting a new bird research program in Denali National Park called Critical Connections. In partnership with the Murie Science and Learning Center and the National Park Service, we will be working with park scientists Carol McIntyre, Ph.D., Laura Phillips, and Jason Reppert and renown bird scientists to place ultra-light geolocators on migratory songbirds. Pulitzer Prize nominated author, birding expert, and friend of Denali Education Center, Scott Weidensaul; Iain Stenhouse, Ph.D., Senior Science Director for the Biodiversity Research Institute; photographer, naturalist, and bird bander George C. Gress; and DEC staff member Jill Boelsma will join the park scientists in an effort to capture and tag two species that migrate to Alaska each summer to breed. In the past month, park scientists have been obtaining and mapping location information for Swainson’s thrush and gray-cheeked thrush – the target species of the study.
The program hopes to gain insight into the movements of and challenges facing these species by tracking them from their breeding grounds here in Alaska to their wintering grounds as far away as South America and back again. The plan is to recapture the same birds next summer, remove the locators, then download and analyze the data. This is possible as these species are known to have “nest fidelity” meaning that they return to a similar location every year to breed. The geolocators are state of the art technology. Their small size should not encumber these fascinating migrants.
Denali Education Center has a long history of supporting park science. Over the past 10 years, Denali Education Center has awarded $150,000 to researchers in Denali Park through the Discover Denali Research Fellowship program. We are supporting this effort both monetarily and by providing in-kind support to the scientists in the field. We are looking forward to hosting lectures at our facility from these experts regarding this ongoing research program.
We invite you to follow us on Facebook and keep an eye on our news page for progress reports, pictures and further information.
Read more about Critical Connections on the Denali National Park website.