UMaine Contributes to Research on Songbird Migration in the Gulf of Maine
The Gulf of Maine serves as a major songbird migration route for birds making the journey from Canada to South America to escape our long, cold winter season. Rebecca Holberton, Associate Professor of Biology at UMaine, and UMaine Graduate Student Adrienne Leppold have been working in recent years on a research project in association with the Northeast Regional Migration Monitoring Network. In the fall and spring, one can find Leppold stationed at Metinic Island off the coast of Maine. Metinic Island serves as a major flyway for birds making their annual journey south to warmer climates, but it’s not the only songbird research station around. UMaine Research Professor and Lecturer Brian Olsen currently has three additional banding stations in Acadia National Park. So what exactly are these diligent researchers doing? What are they trying to find out? The main goal of the project is to gain important information about how songbirds are using the Gulf of Maine. The first task of the researchers is to set up nets. Once a bird is caught a band is promptly attached and the bird’s measurements, age and sex are recorded. Sometimes a tail feather or a blood sample is taken from the bird to be further analyzed. These researchers have even recorded acoustic data from songbirds flying overhead. All of this data combined offers important insight into the behavior and ecology of migrating songbirds in Maine. Hopefully this information can be used in the future to conserve threatened species in light of serious issues such as climate change and land development. To read the full story on UMaine Today, click here.