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Airdate: Oct 06, 2017
Scientist: James Fraser

Helping Shorebirds to Survive

Helping Shorebirds to Survive
An insider's look at how scientists monitor bird life after a devastating hurricane.

Transcript:
Plovers - Field Work

Ambience: Research team banding birds
Metzner: We're on Fire Island, off the coast of Long Island, New York, where a team of biologists is looking at the impacts of major storms on local species, in particular, a shorebird that's on the threatened species list. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Fraser: We're trying to understand the effects of Hurricane Sandy on piping plovers. And so, we're estimating how well do they survive in habitats created by Sandy, as opposed to other habitats that they live in.

Metzner: Jim Fraser is a professor of wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech. He says the hurricane flattened the dunes and created conditions more favorable to the plovers.

Fraser: We're looking at how many birds move into these areas that were created by Hurricane Sandy and looking at the densities. One of the ways of doing this is to individually mark the birds. And then we come back as frequently as possible and look for those same birds. And, by doing that, we can see how long they're going to survive and what their survival rates are like.

Banding Team Leader: The way you want to hold them is like this. You put your thumb on their belly, and that makes them stay still. It's a pretty light touch...

Fraser: So, what you're hearing the team doing is talking through a banding process where they're putting these tags on the bird, and most importantly, that the welfare of the bird is paramount in the process.

So, we're gonna have one person who's going to have the bird in her hand, and they're applying the bands. Other people are handing the bands to that person and you've got somebody else recording the data. So, the person putting the band on will call out the number on the band to the recorder. And then we'll double-check that to make sure that we have the right numbers recorded because we need to know correctly, when we see a bird, where it was banded, when it was banded, how much it weighed, and so forth.

Team Leader: The first band is slipped on like that. Get a hold of it with this thumb and finger and pull the spatula out..

Metzner: Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.