Chile, Chile 2007, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird, wildlife conservation

Shorebirds in Tierra del Fuego Chile 2007


As the shore bird team prepared to depart to Chile on January 18, 2007, they drafted the following objectives for their trip.

From the Shore Bird Team:
The objectives of the Sixth Expedition to Bahia Lomas, are the same as those of our previous trips.

First, we will survey the birds and the conditions in the bay to determine whether either have significantly changed. The state of the Bahia Lomas population of red knots is critical to the Delaware Bay stopover. Our previous expeditions and work in the Delaware has shown that the primary decline of red knots was a result of declines in the wintering population in Tierra del Fuego and nearby Atlantic coast areas. When we first started our work we found over 51,255 birds, by 2006 the number fell to 17,211 birds. During the same period the population of Knots passing through the Delaware Bay fell from 43,145 to 13,455. There are two other areas where knots spend their winters and both are showing similar signs of declines but they account for far less birds.

cannon netting shorebirds in chile

cannon netting shorebirds in chile

The second objective of our work is to capture birds. We do this for many different reasons. First to determine the condition of the birds through body measurements, weight, feather molt and lab analysis of feather samples. We then band the birds with permanent USFWS bands and flags that allow identification at a distance with spotting scopes. The flags have unique combinations of letters and numbers that identify the individual. By resighting these birds we can track their migratory pathway, stopover habitats, migratory timing and ultimately survival. Resighting data collected over three years allows us to determine the survival rate for the entire population. The original estimates of survival based on band resightings drove the mathematical model that predicts the red knot extinction by 2010.

Our Third objective is conduct several studies that will help better define the resources important to shorebirds in Bahia Lomas and in particularly the red knots. Several Chilean researchers will join others from Britain and the US to conduct foraging ecology and energetic studies. We will try to determine prey and their availability on the bay.
Our final objective is to help Chilean conservationists to protect Bahia Lomas and the shorebirds wintering on the bay. We have through the Neotropical Bird Conservation Act funds been granted funding to help construct a research and education center on the shore of Bahia Lomas. With the help of our Chilean colleagues we are beginning the process of constructing the center.

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