Alabama Audubon’s Science & Conservation Department works on a variety of bird- and habitat-related research projects at locations throughout the state. Much of our current focus is on banding and migratory studies, especially on the Gulf Coast and in the Alabama Black Belt region. You can read more about a few of those projects below.
American Oystercatcher Movement in the Northern Gulf
In 2019 we began banding American oystercatchers in an effort to understand more about this species’ movements and survival rate, both in Alabama and across the northern Gulf Coast. We banded four chicks in 2019, one of which was re-sighted along the Florida panhandle several months later. These data provided our first insight into the dispersal of juvenile oystercatchers from their natal grounds here in the state. We plan to band more adults and chicks over the next few years.
Oystercatchers are listed as a highest conservation concern in the state, so this research can help us to make informed decisions for the species’ management in Alabama, while also contributing to conservation efforts across the northern gulf.
Urban Chimney Swift Banding
We’re actively exploring a swift-banding program for downtown Birmingham during fall migration. Check back soon for more details.
Banding Fall Migrants on the Alabama Coast
Coastal Alabama is a critical area for many of North America’s migrating bird species: it’s both the first place that many long-distance migrants stop after crossing the Gulf in spring and one of the last places they stop to fuel up before flying south in the fall. Bob and Martha Sargent ran a world-famous bird-banding station at Fort Morgan from 1989 to 2013 each spring and fall during the respective migrations. Alabama Audubon and our partners at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and Mississippi State University brought a spring-banding station back to Fort Morgan in 2017, and have run it as a publicly accessible event ever since then. In 2019, we also started up a non-public, research-oriented fall banding station. We record data on the body condition of each bird captured, along with its age, sex, and body measurements. The resulting longterm dataset gives us a unique window into these birds’ lives, with important information on their survival, longevity, site fidelity, and migratory timing.
Want to learn more about our scientific work? Interested in joining our Community Science Corps?
Email the Science & Conservation Director.
Oystercatcher photo courtesy Ezra Thompson.