New information on Purple Martin migration!
The latest news on Purple Martin migration is officially out, and it
is stunning. York University scientist Bridget Stutchbury, her staff,
and PMCA staff have tracked two female martins from PMCA’s research
colony at Edinboro, PA to Brazil and back. In June, 2007 the birds were
fitted with special tracking devices called geo-locators that record
daily light levels. Knowing time of local sunrise and sunset on a given
date allows one to approximate a position on the globe. The birds were
recaptured in May, 2008, and the geo-locators were removed. A plot of
the downloaded data revealed their migration routes, times, and wintering
The results of this research are significant, not just for Purple Martins, but for science and ornithology as well, because no one has applied this technology to small birds before. Thus, we kept the news quiet so that the scientific results and technical details could be published first in a research journal. We are proud to report that the prestigious journal Science published an article on February 13th. You can read the abstract and supplemental information at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/323/5916/896 and http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/212/1 and http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/323/5916/896/DC1. The National Geographic Society funded part of the study, and they, too, have published a piece that you can read at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090212-migratory-songbird-tracking-missions.html . Scores of newspapers (e.g., http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09044/948877-85.stm) are running various versions of the story that also includes new information on the migration of the Wood Thrush. PMCA members* will get the full, inside story in the April issue of the Purple Martin Update.
* Not a PMCA member? Join online.or call 814-833-7656. Already a member; why not renew now? Your membership helps the PMCA maintain its research programs.