Scientists are learning a lot these days about the migration of the Black Oystercatcher, a shorebird found along the West Coast from the Aleutian Islands to Baja California. Birds with implanted satellite transmitters are being tracked from breeding areas in Alaska right now. The best part is that we can go along for the ride using Google Earth.
One bird has flown about 700 miles from Middleton Island in the Gulf of Alaska to the northern end of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Two departed southern Alaska's Chugach National Forest for southern British Columbia, a flight of about 1,000 miles. A few released near Juneau remain in the area, and others have flown south but are still in the Inside Passage.
The research will help scientists set habitat conservation priorities for sites oystercatchers use outside of the breeding season, says U.S. Geological Survey biologist Matthew Johnson. — M.M.