Bill Dunson, born in rural Georgia, skipped 12th grade and went directly to Yale. He subsequently received his PhD in Zoology from the University of Michigan. Bill is Professor Emeritus of Pennsylvania State University, thanks to a career spent teaching and researching the physiological ecology and ecotoxicology of reptiles, amphibians and fish. Bill has dedicated his life to learning and sharing his knowledge with others. Join him as he observes our better nature on the Island, his newest home.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Return of the Red Knots
Red Knot "UN4", Knight Island, 2.9.2014
I am fortunate enough to find marked shorebirds on the beach and get
photographs good enough to identify them. Today was one such lucky day
when I spent several hours hiking the beach at the northern end of Knight/Palm
Island. Bird flocks move around a lot based on disturbance by humans and
animals, the stage of the tide, weather, etc. So when I get the
opportunity I use my binoculars to scan the legs of the birds looking for
bands. The red knot is especially likely to be banded since they are
being studied due to a population decline associated with habitat changes
and a decrease in their favorite food (horseshoe crab eggs) that allows them to
re-fuel during migration to the Arctic in Delaware Bay.
Red Knot "UN4", Knight Island 2.9.2014
single flock of about 40 red knots I spotted two birds marked with light green
flags on their legs containing a specific individual code. I enter this
information on a website to determine the history of each bird:
UN4 was an especially interesting case since it was banded Jan.
Island, FL. It has subsequently been
re-sighted a total of 8 times on Sanibel, PalmIsland, in the FL panhandle, and north
of Jacksonville, FL. It appears this may be a
knot that winters in FL and migrates to the Arctic to breed. Others fly all
the way to southern South America. It is remarkable that this red knot is thus proven
to be atleast seven years old since it was banded.
Red Knot "5A0", Knight Island 2.9.2014
5A0 was banded Oct. 18, 2011, on the coast of South Carolina. It has been re-sighted
five times in SC, Sanibel Island and on PalmIsland. It is at least two years
always dumbfounded by data of this type. It is incredible that we can
make such observations on birds, and even more amazing that these shorebirds
can survive for so long making such remarkable migrations. Red knots face
many hazards in the natural and human-dominated world. Let us resolve to
do what we can to make their struggles easier.