Gulf of Mexico Landbird Migration Project
Bird migration has captivated the attention of scientists and lay people for centuries, but many unanswered questions remain about how small birds negotiate large geographic features during migration. How many birds initiate flights across such features and, most importantly, how many of them successfully make it to the other side? How does habitat quality along the edge of these features affect a bird’s ability to successfully cross? Each fall and spring approximately two thirds of migratory songbirds in eastern North America negotiate the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), where inclement weather coupled with no refueling or resting opportunities can be lethal. Since 2009, we have been tracking small terrestrial migrants at stopover sites before and after crossing the Gulf of Mexico and in between to find answers to these and many other questions. Owing to the long-distance migratory routes of these birds, which span multiple countries, we have partnered with state and federal resource agencies and non-profits in the United States and Mexico. A better understanding of the factors influencing migration across the Gulf will inform regional, international conservation of migratory birds.