American Oystercatcher Tracking Project pairs advance technology, social media and research to further wildlife conservation efforts

Written by Audubon North Carolina

One of the project birds, Arnie in July, after his chick had fledged. © Audubon North Carolina

One of the project birds, Arnie in July, after his chick had fledged. © Audubon North Carolina

Thanks to a mix of wildlife tracking technology paired with an interactive website and some social media savvy birds, individuals are being given a first-class ticket to take flight and share in the life of the American Oystercatcher.
Groundbreaking Research
A new research program developed by Audubon North Carolina (ANC) will further our understanding of coastal bird migration and habitat use. The American Oystercatcher Tracking Project was created as a tool to study the movements of six American Oystercatchers over the course of one year, while engaging and educating an online audience through social media engagement that allows birds to tweet online and off.
Currently, scientists know where American Oystercatchers breed and winter, but little is known about how they move between these sites, and where they may stop along the way.  To better understand the mystery of their habits, ANC has equipped six birds with advanced tracking technology in the form of small satellite devices that fit on the birds like a small backpack. The devices will detail their movements allowing scientists to better study individual birds over an extended period. With the trackers, scientists will be able to study the birds’ migratory pathways, habitat choices, and much more.
Travel with the Oystercatchers All Year Long
There is plenty of activity happening this year that goes beyond a bird with a backpack. On the website, each of the birds has been given a name and personality to tell their migration story. Website visitors can follow the birds individually on a digital map and through their Twitter account – where the birds will be tweeting to keep fans updated as they travel. The site is also a rich resource of in-depth information about oystercatcher biology, habits and habitats. Conservation scientists will also contribute to a blog as well, providing a firsthand account of their work on the project.
Adopt an Oystercatcher
Once visitors have chosen their favorite Oystercatchers, there are even more ways to connect with the birds as they take flight. ANC is giving supporters the opportunity to adopt an American Oystercatcher of their own, contributing to ongoing conservation efforts for the priority species. New parents will receive a certificate of adoption and photo of their bird, and proceeds from the Adopt an Oystercatcher program will go to support on-the-ground fieldwork in North Carolina.
Lindsay Addison, Audubon North Carolina coastal biologist says:
The AMOY Tracking Project is unique in the way it incorporates the research of coastal bird migration, while also engaging the public through social media. Our team is excited to participate in such an exciting project, expanding knowledge of coastal birds for science, conservation and the public.
The American Oystercatcher Project was developed through a partnership with Toyota Together Green, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and North Carolina State University. For more information about the Tracking Project, visit nc.audubon.org/american-oystercatcher-tracking-project.
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