Breakthroughs in Science

New research and technologies, such as tiny tracking devices, are making it possible to understand critical details about migration routes and threats. Armed with this information, we can take increasingly targeted actions to save birds.

Golden-winged Warbler research, Kyle Aldinger

Golden-winged Warbler research, Kyle Aldinger

Golden-wings and High-tech Backpacks

We were pleased to support the installation of geolocators on 20 male Golden-winged Warblers in January 2015 on their wintering grounds in Nicaragua. These tiny devices record the location of the geolocator-wearing bird as it travels. ABC and partners will send teams to Nicaragua next winter to try to re-capture the birds and analyze geolocator data.

Information gained via this new technology makes it possible to work with key partners in focal conservation areas to increase the global population of Golden-winged Warblers and identify the greatest limiting factors to recovery.


Wood Thrush with geolocator, Elizabeth Gow

Insights on Wood Thrush

Similar work on Wood Thrush led to amazing discoveries. Geolocator studies in 2008 revealed that a Wood Thrush had flown 2,300 miles, from Pennsylvania to Nicaragua, in only two weeks.

More important, the research showed that Wood Thrush from this part of the species’ breeding range consistently winter in places like eastern Nicaragua, where deforestation rates are among the highest in the world.

A banded Red Knot in Brazil, Alberto Campos

Banded Red Knots in Brazil

Our partner, Aquasis, has identified an important population of rufa Red Knot that overwinters in northeast Brazil’s Cajuais Bank, one of the few known wintering and stopover sites for the species.

During peak migration periods, Aquasis staff have observed groups of more than 2,000 knots, many of them wearing bands from stations in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. By studying these birds, Aquasis is helping to fill important gaps in knowledge of the species.

This knowledge comes at a critical time. Salt flats like this one are increasingly converted to shrimp farming and salt harvesting operations; before the Cajuais Bank suffers a similar fate, conservationists can use the information gathered to help protect this crucial shorebird habitat.