White Oak’s Bird Team Helps a Local Bird…

White Oak’s Bird Team recently had the opportunity to ‘spread their wings’ and travel to coastal Georgia to work with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to participate in a project to band American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliates). The birds are year-round residents of Georgia, but the numbers increase in the winter as northern breeding birds migrate through, and the banding projects is typically done at this time.

Animal Collections Manager, Andrew Schumann and Riley Parrott, Lead Avian Wildlife Specialist, take measurements on an oystercatcher before banding. Photo: GA DNR

Animal Collections Manager, Andrew Schumann gave this report of the day’s adventure:

“For the past three years White Oak has been working with Georgia DNR to learn more about the local conservation work happening just across the river from White Oak, in southeast coastal Georgia.  Recently, our team had a unique opportunity to help them catch and band roosting flocks of American Oystercatcher.  During each of the two capture events, over 20 birds were caught all at once under a cannon net.  Birds were removed from the net, weighed, measured, banded, photographed, aged, and then released. 

“Why catch and band these unique birds?   Well, most of what we know about American Oystercatcher populations and movement is the result of band re-sight studies like those implemented by Georgia DNR.

“American Oystercatcher numbers had drastically declined by the 1900’s and were locally extirpated throughout much of the northern Atlantic range.  Today, much of their historic range has been recolonized, but overall numbers still remain low and are under threat.”

Another important aspect to the Georgia DNR project is the re-sighting of banded birds to help with understanding the movements of those oystercatchers that migrate. According to the DNR, Georgia-tagged birds have been documented in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Panama! Want to help with the re-sighting project? You do not have to go to Central America to do it, but if you see banded American Oystercatchers while on your beach walks, you can report them through the American Oystercatcher Working Group here: https://amoywg.org/.

We are pleased that our awesome bird nerds, er, bird team, were able to participate in such a great project. It was not only a great experience for them, but it allowed White Oak to contribute to the recovery of this unique bird.  #conservationcontinues #ittakesallofus #weareallbirdnerds 

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