loWA Geolocator Project
Louisiana Waterthrush (LOWA) are in decline in our region. What does this tell us about our forests?
Louisiana Waterthrush (LOWA) are Neotropical songbirds that have been identified as a "species in decline" by the regional authority on bird population health, Appalachian Mountain Joint Venture. However, LOWA populations are on the rise within our specific area, making the Tennessee River Gorge an area of regional importance. LOWA serve as stream health indicators because they feed on macroinvertebrates such as mayfly larvae which are only found in healthy water sources.
At the Trust, we want to understand what pressures are causing this unique bird to decline. In the summer of 2016, we deployed geolocator data loggers on sixteen LOWAs in order to learn more about their full life cycle. These geolocators map the LOWA's migration routes and wintering grounds by measuring ambient light levels in association with time of day. This data can only be retrieved directly from the geolocators; thus, we must recapture the geolocator-carrying LOWA upon their return to the Gorge in the summer of 2017. Since LOWA often return to the same summer breeding grounds year after year, we are able to successfully and safely recapture LOWA as they return from their southern wintering grounds.
We have successfully recovered five of the geolocators, each of which contains exceptionally unique data on their migration routes and specific winter locations. The data revealed that the LOWA migrated to various locations within Guatemala and Southern Mexico, a round trip of over 3,000 miles! This project has been one of the first successful attempts at tracking the migration routes of the Louisiana Waterthrush. With this research project we have opened the door to better addressing threats to LOWA and their habitat – whether they be local or global!
Bird News at the Trust
Southeast Conservation Corps has been camping out at the Bird Observatory this week cutting trails to aid in bird-banding operations!
The Trust bird lab has its very own logo! Designed by our Cerulean Warbler Researcher Holland Youngman, the logo features a Scarlet Tanager, a common nester in the Tennessee River Gorge. We'll be getting official Bird Observatory shirts with corresponding logo for all of our researchers!
Yesterday, the Trust purchased a radio telemetry receiver for use in our Cerulean Warbler 2-Year Survey with a grant from the Tennessee Ornithological Society.
This season, researcher Holland Youngman will be using radio telemetry to track the foraging habits of Cerulean Warblers in the Gorge.
Yesterday, a crew of 15 met at Velo Coffee Roaster's parking lot to carpool to the Trust's new bird lab. We parked, hiked in, and Velo's John Fentress made coffee for the group while bird-banders Lizzie Goodrick and John Diener educated the group on all aspects of bird-banding. We caught some great birds!
We got local photographer Kevin Livingood out to the bird-banding lab to take photos. Here are the beautiful shots he came up with!
The Trust partnered with Olive Bean Natural Grocery & Cafe to host a dinner in celebration of the bird research the Trust has recently conducted. April, owner of Olive Bean, served Colombian black beans & rice with spiced briscuit, sweet fried plantains, and pineapple polenta cake. We had a great turnout, as you can see. We plan to have more collaborative events in the future, so stay tuned to our event page!