‘Hope’ is becoming increasingly familiar with this blog. Not just because we do our darndest to be optimistic (and several conservation gains in Canada’s boreal in the past few years have affirmed this right—including recent good news in Quebec). But because one amazing Whimbrel named Hope has provided much joy for this blog over the past few years.
For those of you unfamiliar with Hope, she’s a Whimbrel that was outfitted with a satellite tracker in 2009 through a joint research project between the Center for Conservation Biology and the Nature Conservancy. They’ve been able to track her migration movements ever since, including what will become her third successful round trip between her breeding grounds in the Mackenzie River Delta in Canada and her wintering grounds on St. Croix of the U.S. Virgin Islands once she reaches her summer habitat later this spring.
Whimbrel migration has always been difficult for scientists to understand. Although their summer breeding grounds, wintering habitat and migratory stopover habitat have been documented, connecting which Whimbrels use which habitats (and how they get there) has not been easy. At least until this project commenced. We’ve blogged updates on Hope and several of her partners in the program—some of which have been less fortunate—on several occasions, during which she’s traversed thousands of miles and navigated around several nasty storms, including one hurricane. Here are a few of them:
-Tracking Hope, the Whimbrel (8/20/09)
-Hope Spotted on St. Croix (8/28/09)
-Boreal Shorebirds Killed in the Caribbean (10/20/11)
-Hope Returns (4/9/12)
Hope (and the program overall) not only helps scientists better understand Whimbrels, she also puts a face on migration and conservation for everyday birders like you and I. There can sometimes be a disconnect between the nitty-gritty science and data collection and the simple joy of watching birds. Hope and the other Whimbrels in this program help bridge that gap, blending science with the fun and excitement of individual birds themselves.
Adding to the fun and exciting element of this program, I think you might enjoy this video about Hope and her participation in this program. It explains the program overall and follows Hope throughout her various migration adventures and obstacles. She’s had quite a ride since first being tracked, and we think you’ll have one too when you watch this great video!