After months of planning and preparation, ACR’s Heron and Egret Telemetry Project has literally taken flight! ACR Avian Ecologists Scott Jennings and David Lumpkin and Director of Conservation Science Dr. John Kelly spent an exciting eight days with collaborators Drs. John Brzorad and Alan Maccarone, who travelled from North Carolina and Kansas, respectively, to train us in capturing Great Egrets and outfitting them with tiny GPS transmitters. So far, we’ve tagged three Great Egrets, all at ACR’s Toms Point in northern Tomales Bay.
A tagged Great Egret near Toms Point, Tomales Bay
Director of Conservation Science Dr. John Kelly and Dr. Alan Maccarone hold a Great Egret while Avian Ecologist Scott Jennings and Dr. John Brzorad measure and record the length of the bird's upper mandible, or “culmen.”
The birds were captured and tagged simply and safely, and the tags are recording data on the birds’ locations and behaviors every five minutes.
Over the next few months, we will be expanding the geographic range of the project to track up to 14 birds nesting near tidal wetlands throughout the northern portion of the San Francisco Bay area, covering much of the area studied by the ACR’s monitoring of nesting colonies. These exciting new data, which can be downloaded remotely, will allow us to answer numerous mysteries about how herons and egrets use and depend on the wetland landscapes of the SF Bay Estuary and beyond, helping to guide conservation of the important wetlands in our area and elsewhere. This is the first work of this kind on Great Egrets in the western United State, and we are excited to contribute new information to the network of researchers working in the mid-West and East Coast to better understand how regional populations of these birds may differ in how they move across the landscape and use habitats. Stay tuned for ongoing updates on project developments!