Tracking Songbirds Over the Gulf of Maine

by Wells Reserve Contributor


To improve understanding of spatial and temporal patterns of migratory land bird movement in coastal and offshore regions of the northeast, in order to assess vulnerability to offshore wind development and guide responsible siting of turbines.


Researchers from the University of Massachusetts are using VHF radio telemetry to track migratory movements of two songbird species over coastal and offshore areas within the Gulf of Maine. The two focal species are Blackpoll Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo.

  1. Biologists are attaching radio transmitters to birds at Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Education and Research Center and Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge. Automated receiving units deployed around the Gulf of Maine will detect the radio signals as birds migrate south. The Wells Reserve is hosting one of the receiving stations.
  2. Researchers will use feather samples to identify where birds hatched and will inspect all birds before release for fat level and body condition. This will allow them to investigate if movement patterns are related to the birds’ energetic condition, distance from which they have already traveled, or gender.
  3. Biologists will track birds on the ground at the banding location with manual receiving stations. This will provide information on how birds are using the sites while they are stopped and feeding, how long they are stopping, and how these factors depend on body condition and time of year.


  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, IGERT Wind Energy Fellowship

Project Partners

  • University of Massachusetts (lead)
  • Acadia University
  • University of Maine
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
  • College of the Atlantic
  • Blue Hill Heritage Trust
  • Schoodic Education and Research Center
  • Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

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