Catbird successUpdate on geolocator study
Summer 2012
Our mission
The Rouge River Bird Observatory was established in 1992 to explore an understudied area of research: the importance of urban natural areas to birds. In our increasingly urbanizing world, habitat fragments in metropolitan areas are coming critical to the survival of birds. Understanding these ecosystems and how birds use them is essential for science-based conservation.
Rouge River Bird Observatory
Environmental Interpretive Cntr.
Univ. of Michigan-Dearborn
Dearborn, Michigan 48128


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Your donation does more than support RRBO research. The skills learned by RRBO banders lay the foundation for successful careers, creating a ripple effect that greatly magnifies your contribution. Here's an example:

Mark Dettling , PRBO  
Mark Dettling joined the RRBO crew in 2001. He had just graduated with a chemical engineering degree, and was pondering his next move. His brother Andy, a long-time RRBO volunteer, convinced Mark to accompany him while he engaged in some RRBO research. Mark's experience at RRBO was a life-changer.

"The opportunity I had volunteering at RRBO taught me not only the valuable and highly sought-after skill of bird banding, but also helped me decide to pursue a career in avian research," Mark told us recently. He went on to get a graduate degree in natural resources, and is now a Terrestrial Ecologist at PRBO Conservation Science (formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory) in California.

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We have recaptured two Gray Catbirds that were carrying geolocators -- devices that measure light levels wherever the bird has traveled. These devices were placed on 13 catbirds last year, prior to their southbound migration. We have been able to download data from the devices, and once analyzed we should be able to determine each bird's migration route and wintering area -- somewhere in Mexico or Central America!
One of these birds was sponsored by a donor. We will be placing more geolocators on catbirds this fall. Sponsorships will be automatically available to any donor at the $300 level or above, first come, first served.
We have seen at least one other catbird carrying a device that we have not recaptured yet. You can read about our initial success at recapturing our first bird and check out photos at the RRBO blog Net Results. 
Featured milestone: Oldest bird banded
This year, I'll be featuring species that represent RRBO milestones.

We recapture many birds that we previously banded here on campus -- the information we obtain from recaptured migrant birds is a cornerstone of our research. Many of the birds we recapture, however, are resident species.

The oldest bird we have recaptured -- based on the age at the time of banding and the time between captures -- was an adult Hairy Woodpecker originally banded by Dr. Orin Gelderloos on 2 June 1983. RRBO recaptured this bird on 22 May 1995, making this bird at least 12 years, 11 months old! This is a minimum estimate, as we do not know exactly how old the bird was when we first caught it.

You can view some of our other noteworthy longevity records at the RRBO web site. Four of them are among the ten oldest recorded in North America for their species.
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The Rouge River Bird Observatory is supported outside the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Environmental Interpretive Center budgets by private donors, foundations, community groups, and grants.

 The most valuable ecological research requires a long-term commitment to data-gathering.    

Your donations support bird banding, bird population monitoring, publishing research, strategic planning and cooperative research, and community outreach.

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