Identifying and understanding the migratory connectivity of birds throughout an entire annual cycle (not just the times of year they are in your back yard), is critical to understanding their biology and ecology. And knowing how and where birds migrate and breed is an important part of understanding how and why their numbers increase or decrease over time. Not much is known about the exact migratory patterns of most birds. Smithsonian scientists, however, are changing that.
Peter Marra, head of the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center, takes advantage of Texas’ gulf coast to track and record migratory songbirds as they fly north over the Gulf of Mexico, returning from their tropical wintering grounds. He also uses it as an opportunity to teach a new generation of conservationists why knowing where birds go, what route they take to get there, and where they make pit stops is critical to the birds’ survival.