Spring is here…

By Ethan Duke

As the winter Backyard Banding season drew to a close, spring was already upon us. There is nearly a cacophony of spring peepers in full chorus now. Early dawn air is filled with the sounds like those of Towhees, Cardinals, Thrashers, Phoebes, and others declaring that spring is here. As the rising tide of song swells into the Missouri landscape we anticipate the crashing waves of migrants.

Check out how the wave of Hummingbirds is rising up through the southern states already! http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

We love the experience and we are excited to measure it through banding, point counts, acoustic recordings, and surveys. Migration offers us a perfect snapshot in the lifecycle of birds to achieve measures of trends. Through long-term monitoring we can we accurately detect trends elucidating the state of the birds.

This year we will be our fourth year of monitoring spring migration at Grand Pass Conservation Area. Additionally, we’ll set up a satellite station at Van Meter State Park.

2012 will be year one of statewide marsh bird surveys. Less often heard than many of our song birds, these secretive marsh dwellers are are also part of the spring wave, but often pass beneath the radar.

 to hear in Missouri considering that this bird has rarely been
seen in the state.

Early morning and evening surveys will be conducted by 3 technicians and myself on Missouri Department of Conservation Areas, National Wildlife Refuges, and privately owned lands enrolled in conservation easement programs. We’ll wade through the marshes hoping to here; “Kik-burrs” of King Rails, “Tick-its” of Virginia Rails, “Pump-er-lunks” of American Bitterns, “Kaks” of Least Bitterns, “Click-clicks” of Yellow Rails, or maybe even the “Kicky-doo” of a Black Rail! While there, we also make note of other marsh dwelling birds such as Marsh Wrens, Sedge Wrens, Yellow-headed Black Birds, and more.

We will continue deploying our Night Flight Call Autonomous Recording Unit (ARU) at our migration station and extend recordings into the marsh bird project. I’ll moving two ARUs weekly in wetlands around the state. In the fall I’ll begin analyzing the recordings with Soundscope and Raven Pro software to further aid our understanding of marsh bird vocal behavior and to assess our survey methodologies. One of the amazing things about recording birds is that long after the waves of birds recede back to their fall and winter haunts, you still listen to them through recordings.

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