Audubon speaker discusses shorebird ecology and conservation

Feather Publishing

  Have you ever wondered how birds decide where to build their nests and raise their families? What qualities do you think female birds prefer in a mate? Do bird parents and chicks talk to each other, and if so what are they saying?

  Dr. Matthew Johnson has investigated these types of questions in several bird species, and he will be presenting his research on shorebird behavior and conservation at the upcoming Plumas Audubon Society meeting May 8, 7 p.m. at the Plumas County library.

  Johnson will discuss behavioral research conducted both locally, near Honey Lake, and in Alaska and Canada. Locally, Johnson will talk about research directed at understanding how shorebird parents decide which one of them is watching the kids tonight, and how and when to use different portions of the landscape throughout the daily and annual cycle.

  Local study species include American avocets, black-necked stilts, killdeer, Wilson’s phalaropes and willets.

  Johnson will talk about which males appear to be most desirable to female sandpipers breeding in Alaska, how age and experience influence how sandpipers distribute themselves across the vast arctic tundra, and where the best real estate is located. He will present experiments demonstrating how sandpiper parents and chicks communicate with each other and other species, and what they are trying to say.

  Johnson will also present a study using satellite transmitters to track oystercatchers during migration in order to determine where birds breeding in Canada and Alaska spend the winter months.

  Arctic breeding study species include rock sandpipers, western sandpipers, black oystercatchers … and plenty of pretty pictures of other arctic species.

  Guest speaker Johnson is the Plumas National Forest’s wildlife, fish and rare plant program manager. Prior to immigrating to Plumas County, Johnson served as the California Condor Recovery Program’s research coordinator, and he also has worked with recovery programs for several other threatened and endangered species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker and northern spotted owl.

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