Web aids high-tech bird-watching
- By Natasha Haubold
- May 23, 2000
The U.S. Geological Survey has been whooping it up lately, thanks to new
World Wide Web sites that monitor the birth and growth of cranes and the
migration of pintail ducks.
The April birth of two whooping crane chicks was broadcast live on a
special USGS Web page at whoopers.usgs.gov. Pictures
of the chicks' progress are included on the site daily, and it also includes
interesting anecdotes and crane rearing techniques.
The endangered birds, raised at a USGS breeding facility in Maryland,
will be released in Florida in hopes of re-establishing a whooping crane
population in the United States, a USGS spokesperson said.
The whooping crane site is not USGS' only interactive Internet location
for bird lovers. The agency has been tracking the migration of female pintail
ducks from California to Canada to their nesting grounds in Alaska and posting
their progress on the Web at www.werc.usgs.gov/pinsat.
By attaching satellite transmitters to the ducks, USGS waterfowl biologists
can track their locations. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
satellites receive the transmissions and can determine a duck's location
through the changes in Doppler radar readings.
"For the first time we will be able to track this species," said Michael
Miller, a USGS biologist. "This new knowledge will aid conservation programs
for pintails all along their migration routes"
Biologists post each duck's daily position on the Web. Biologists add
pertinent information about the birds' movements, including weather conditions
and descriptions of surrounding habitats in a weekly journal.
The crane and duck Web sites are used to educate people about endangered
species and are made possible through partnerships with state, federal and