[TN-Bird] Tracking a Shorebird into Hurricane Irene

  • From: "Scott Somershoe" <Scott.Somershoe@xxxxxx>
  • To: "TN-birds" <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2011 10:52:33 -0500

Forwarding this from another email list. I thought this would be broad interest 
to the group.  

Pretty neat stuff, unless you are a whimbrel that tries to go through a 
tropical storm and doesn't make out.
Scott Somershoe

Scientists Track Shorebird into Hurricane Irene

(Williamsburg, VA)---Scientists have tracked a migrating shorebird into 
Hurricane Irene.  The shorebird, a whimbrel migrating from Canada to South 
America left Southampton Island in upper Hudson Bay on Saturday, flew out over 
the open ocean and appears to have encountered the outer bands of Irene on 
Tuesday.  The bird named Chinquapin flew through the dangerous northeast 
quadrant of the storm during the day on Wednesday.  It is being tracked by a 
small satellite transmitter and is scheduled to transmit a new set of positions 
within the next day.  In 2010 this same bird flew around Tropical Storm Colin 
while a second bird flew into the storm and did not survive.

The long-term tracking study has documented several previous encounters between 
whimbrel and major storms.  Earlier in August one of the birds flew through 
Tropical Storm Gert in the North Atlantic.  This bird encountered high 
headwinds for 27 hours averaging only 9 miles per hour.  Once through the 
storm, flight speed increased to more than 90 miles per hour as the bird was 
pushed by significant tail winds and made it back to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 
In 2008, a bird was tracked into Hurricane Hanna and landed in the Bahamas only 
to be hit later by Hurricane Ike.  

Updated tracking maps may be viewed online.


How migratory birds navigate around and survive major storm systems has been an 
open question to science.  Achieving an understanding of this process is 
important because the Caribbean Basin is a major flyway for many bird species 
moving from breeding grounds in North American to winter in South America and 
their migrations coincide with the period of highest hurricane formation.  
Changes in storm frequency, intensity, or distribution may have implications 
for timing and routes of migratory movements.

This tracking project is a collaborative effort between The Center for 
Conservation Biology, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, The Nature 
Conservancy, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Virginia Coastal Zone 
Management Program, and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.

Media Contacs
Dr. Bryan D. Watts, Director, College of William and Mary& Virginia 
Commonwealth University, bdwatt@xxxxxx, (757) 221-2247 office
Fletcher M. Smith, Biologist, Center for Conservation Biology, 757-221-1617
Tim Keyes, Wildlife Biologist, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, 
tim.keyes@xxxxxxxxx ,  (912) 262 3191 (office)
Brad Winn, Manomet Center for Conservation Science, bwinn@xxxxxxxxxxx 

State Ornithologist
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37204
615-781-6653 (o)

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  • » [TN-Bird] Tracking a Shorebird into Hurricane Irene - Scott Somershoe