Whimbrels in Churchill: Tracking a Long-distance Migrant
The incredible marathon migrations of many shorebird species are truly some of the natural world's most astounding feats. After breeding on the Seward Peninsula, the Bar-tailed Godwit flies from western Alaska to New Zealand, traversing the Pacific Ocean in a single, non-stop flight! This is an extreme example, but hardly an exception in the world of shorebirds. Their arctic breeding grounds are delicately connected to their temperate, coastal wintering grounds by strings of stopover sites: places the birds can rely on, year after year, to refuel along their migrations. Unfortunately for the birds, these sites are often found in prime areas for human development as well. Such is the fragile world a shorebird inhabits, and using gelocation devices that measure the timing of sunrise and sunset to pinpoint a bird's location, I hope to uncover the details of one of these species' migratory routes, in order to better understand and protect it.
This short film was produced in conjunction with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Multimedia Department as part of an undergraduate thesis project.