Friday, September 12, 2014

RRBO update

It's been awhile since I've posted an update due to some changes here at RRBO.

As has been the case with many non-profits, fundraising has been particularly challenging over the past five years or so since the recession. While things have improved recently, RRBO's funding shortfall has forced us to reduce our operations. We're doing our best to try to prioritize research activities on our curtailed schedule. One goal is to finish a solid version of a major paper on the diet of Hermit and Swainson's Thrushes on fall migration. Most of the analyses and a big chunk of the writing is done, and this fall we are working on the last of our fruit crop surveys and fruit/seed morphology work (more on that in another post) which is both time-sensitive and time-consuming! Our fall banding has been focused on catbirds and robins, as these can be the subject of another paper.

Two things have further limited our banding program this fall. After 7 years, the plastic deer fencing that we found necessary to install around the banding site has finally deteriorated so that we are no longer able to repair it. Given the current circumstances, we don't have the resources to replace it. The deer herd has grown substantially since the fence was put up, and due to major construction on the other end of campus, many deer are in and around the banding site. We're using fewer nets and reconfigured them to (hopefully) minimize potential damage, conserve our equipment, and provide a safer situation for birds.

Second, in early August we discovered that someone had dumped 10 or more cats around the Environmental Interpretive Center, and had also been feeding them. This is a tragedy for both the cats and the wildlife. We cannot band birds when there are free-roaming cats in the area, and it takes considerable effort for us to trap these cats, if we can at all.

Therefore, we are doing limited banding here on campus as well as at the Washtenaw County site we used last year for the catbird study. Speaking of which, while we did see a number of catbirds banded in previous years this spring and summer, we only saw one returning bird with a geolocator, and many attempts to recapture it were unsuccessful. Many of our catbirds return multiple years, and the batteries last on the geolocators for two years (and even if dead, the data can still be accessed). We may still get one this fall; otherwise we will have to see what happens next year.

Somewhere in the mix, I have to squeeze in our annual fundraising campaign. The goal is to increase support by 30% in order to avoid further cuts and furloughs. But you don't have to wait -- visit this page on the RRBO web site to learn how to make a gift today!

1 comment:

Julie Craves said...

Some people have asked about contributing to new deer fencing. We actually have materials, but the issue is one of both labor, and the usefulness of this type of fencing. The fencing meant as a temporary measure and an experiment. We're surprised it held up as well as it did, but it has major breaches where trees have fallen, deer have broken through, and animals have chewed holes. It has been patched multiple times, and is not really adequate protection any longer. We would really require more substantial fencing around a 3-acre area, something that we cannot invest in at this time. Having a nice fence will not help if we do not have a bird research program to go with it, and our efforts have to be toward increased fundraising. Sincere thanks to those who asked about helping with the fence!