What is the role of bird observatories? Simply put, you have the full gambit from research to conservation, and in between those is education.
Really, it’s a tall order to be able to use modern wildlife technology, to be able to answer wildlife biology research questions, and conserve species, and at the same time be able to educate the public. It’s key to the mission of most bird observatories to use telemetry devices and mapping and analytical software to monitor for questions like migratory connectivity, population monitoring and conservation. And to leverage the data for education and outreach.
Technology and complex analyses and visualizations have the potential to revolutionize how bird observatories are fulfilling their missions and helping conserve species worldwide. And I really believe that we’re in the age now with technology to really make a huge difference. Not only in what we’re learning about species we study, but also to educate the public of what these birds are doing.
Observatories study, among other subjects, stopover sites and duration in wintering grounds, spatial and temporal effects, and detailed behavior. Telemetry transmitters will allow us to interpret influences on those observations.
The work of the staff and volunteers at bird observatories can be greatly augmented with low-cost wildlife tracking systems, and is one important reason we continue to develop new capabilities for Life Tag. Observatories, like most researchers, have limited funding for equipment like solar powered, digital radio transmitters that last multiple seasons. But the value this technology adds to an observatory’s ability to perform its mission is incredible.
Observatories are often the first to detect changes in populations, migrations, behaviors, and breeding success. All stakeholders should support the efforts of these critical environmental data centers through donations, sponsorships, and volunteering.