Using tiny tags to track a bird’s location, biologists from PRBO Conservation Science (PRBO) have unlocked the mystery of where Golden-crowned Sparrows, whichoverwinter in California, go to breed in the spring. Published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, the study reveals for the first time the exact migration route of this small songbird to its breeding sites in coastal Alaska.
During a time when birds are experiencing the negative impacts of climate and land-use changes, being able to pinpoint the most important breeding and stopover places is critical to prioritizing conservation investments.
PRBO scientists attached small tags that record day length to Golden-crowned Sparrows wintering in and near Point Reyes National Seashore before they headed north on spring migration. When the birds returned the following fall, four tagged birds were safely recaptured, the tags were removed, and the data downloaded to a computer.
“This study is helping to unravel the mystery of bird migration and answer the age-old question of where birds go, which helps protect habitat along their entire migratory journey,” said lead author, PRBO’s Dr. Nat Seavy. …