COMING OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2006

Dr. Sidney Gauthreaux, Centennial Professor of Biological Sciences
at Clemson University to speak at 2006 BirdFest

Alabama BirdFest 2006 is still 9 months away, but organizers have already lined up an exciting speaker. Dr. Sidney Gauthreaux, Centennial Professor of Biological Sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina, will discuss “Radar Ornithology and the Conservation of Migratory Birds.” His presentation will be part of the BBQ & Seafood Social to be held at the James P. Nix Center in Fairhope on Friday, Oct. 20.

Although the topic sounds complicated, Dr. Gauthreaux said it is information that any interested bird watcher can easily understand and use. “There are several sites on the Internet where you can get real-time information from Doppler radar. I believe that after hearing my presentation, people will be able to monitor bird migration the same as I do.”

According to Gauthreaux, there are three levels of using remote sensing technology. “The first uses thermal imaging that detects migrating birds during the day or night based on the heat they generate. The second uses high-resolution radar that can detect individual birds or migrating flocks within three or four miles of the radar. Doppler radar is the third level, and that detects birds out to 100 miles and can pinpoint the speed and direction of their movements. Using all of the approximately 150 Doppler radar sites around the country, you can easily detect migration patterns.”

Birders will find the radar information to be a valuable tool, Gauthreaux said. “There is a significant relationship between what you see on radar one night and what you see in the woodlands the next morning.”

A native of New Orleans and graduate of LSU, Gauthreaux’s PhD dissertation explored using WSR-57weather radar to track trans-Gulf migration. He did post-doctoral work with Dr. Eugene Odum at the Institute of Ecology at the University of Georgia, and in 1970, accepted a faculty position at Clemson University.

He continued his radar studies of migration, establishing the Clemson University Radar Ornithology Laboratory (CUROL) in 1990. In the spring of 1992, he visited the WSR-88 (NEXRAD radar) station in Dickinson, TX and found that this new Doppler weather surveillance radar was more powerful, more sensitive, and much more technologically sophisticated than the older radar. It also provided researchers with information on the direction and speed of migratory movements, as well as density.

IN 1995, with support from the Department of Defense, CUROL began archiving bird movements displayed on NEXRADs in the national network. This database has aided in the development of national and regional maps of bird migration and maps of important migration stopover areas within 60 miles of the radar station. In addition, forecast models of migration density are being developed, and calibration of NEXRAD displays of different types of bird movements continues.

According to information on its web site, CUROL is devoted to the acquisition and analysis of radar data as it relates to bird movements in the atmosphere. Relating radar data, field observation, satellite imagery, and weather data, the laboratory has discovered important factors controlling temporal and spatial patterns of daily and seasonal movements of birds. Our use of the NEXRAD network in the United States has allowed us to record large-scale migration events and relate these to topography and local and regional weather conditions. Researchers are also using this data to develop continent-wide and regional migration maps and to build predictive models of migration for different regions of the United States.

The Alabama Coastal BirdFest 2006 is scheduled for Oct. 19-22. Check back here often for more information as tour and speaker schedules are developed.

Eric Soehren is from Jacksonville, Alabama and attended Jacksonville State University for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biology with an emphasis in ornithology.

Following graduate school, Eric took a position with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), State Lands Division (SLD). He currently serves as the Terrestrial Zoologist for the SLD Natural Heritage Section.

Much of his work is directly associated with the Alabama Forever Wild Program; a state-administered land acquisition program. Some of Eric’s responsibilities include conducting field surveys for rare and poorly known faunal species and performing ecology-related research on Forever Wild lands. His work provides important information that assists in guiding the management of these lands for conservation and recreational opportunities, which helps insure that some of Alabama’s most special natural areas will remain preserved and managed appropriately for the public’s benefit.

Eric is also involved with several conservation restoration projects on Forever Wild lands. Additionally, he is active with conservation outreach by speaking to numerous organizations, groups, and the public. He also contributes popular articles regularly in ADCNR’s magazine Outdoor Alabama.

Eric is an experienced ornithologist and birder. He has led many field trips over the past decade including the previous two Alabama Coastal Birdfests. He currently serves as the Alabama coordinator for the USGS Breeding Bird Survey and is active in operating an annual fall migration bird banding station in Tennessee.

Weeks Bay Reserve Foundation• Fairhope • Alabama • Copyright 2003 • All Rights Reserved