Presenters at the 2008 Alabama Coastal BirdFest focus on migration issues

Thursday night’s Opening Reception takes place in Delta Hall at Five Rivers – Alabama’s Delta Resource Center, located on the Causeway between Mobile and the Eastern Shore. A highlight of the evening will be a special program by photographer Greg Harber called Through the Delta and Beyond.

“The program will feature photos of a variety of birds and their habitats, beginning in the farthest reaches of north Alabama, through the landscapes of the inland coastal plain and into the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and the Gulf of Mexico,” Harber said. “It is a journey millions of birds undertake each spring and fall, and through slides set to music accompaniment, I hope to share the magic and wonder of Alabama’s birds and their incredible journeys.”

A member of the Alabama Ornithological Society, the Birmingham Audubon Society, and President of the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries, Inc., Harber is a biologist with the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His photos have appeared in Alabama Birdlife, Journal of the Alabama Ornithological Society, and the four-volume set Alabama Wildlife, published by the University of Alabama Press.

 
 

Friday night’s Barbecue and Seafood Dinner at the James P. Nix Center in Fairhope features keynote speaker Dr. Frank Moore, a respected ornithological researcher and chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi. “Dr. Moore and his team have spent many years documenting and studying the behavior and ecology of migration, and I know his talk will be quite interesting,” said John Borom, BirdFest chairman.

Dr. Frank Moore, notes that more than two-thirds of all the birds that breed in the United States and Canada migrate to tropical wintering areas in Mexico, Central and South America, and the islands of the Caribbean. He said some biologists speculate that long-distance, intercontinental landbird migrants experience the better of two worlds.

“They enjoy increased reproductive success by virtue of breeding in food rich, competitor poor temperate areas in the summer, and increased survival by spending the temperate winter in the tropics. This argument has merit, but we must keep in mind that migration is a costly, energy expensive, high-risk event that takes its toll in increased mortality, especially among young, naive birds-of-the year.”

Dr. Moore’s talk will touch on the high cost of migration, habitat selection during migration, behavioral response to the energy demands of migration, and a landscape analysis of migration. “Our research has recently taken on a sense of urgency because populations of many migratory songbirds are on the decline. These declines are linked to deforestation on wintering grounds in Central and South America and fragmentation of forested breeding habitats. But our work is calling attention to a third factor - the availability of suitable habitat during migration. The biology of migrants during migration must figure in the formulation of sound conservation policy.”

To learn more about the work of Dr. Moore and the Migratory Bird Research Group at the University of Southern Mississippi, visit http://www.usm.edu/mbrg/

Proceeds from the Alabama Coastal BirdFest are used to help preserve and protect bird and wildlife habitat on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Since its founding in 2004, BirdFest has raised more than $40,000 to help this cause.