Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blast from the Past - Snippets from the Refuge Archives

I’ve been handed an amazing project: the refuge archives!! I know. Dull, right? Not at all! Sure, there’s the humdrum bureaucratic stuff: how many man hours does a fence require? How many birds were tagged? But there are also stories about daily life and special events. In this series, I plan to share whatever fun tidbits I run across as I sift through the history of our National Wildlife Refuges.
Blast from the Past: 1956 - Color Marking Study of Migration Routes
How would you determine the migration routes of birds without radio tags or GPS or really computers in general? During March & April, 1955 around 850 Ross’s Geese (white birds) were trapped and dyed vivid colors (pink, yellow, and green) near Tule Lake, CA. This was done to see if the tracking rates would be better than banding. It was noted that the geese were accepted back into the flock despite the outrageous coloring. Studies like this are entirely dependent upon the reports of observers and the scientists involved hoped that the distinctive, non-natural colors would attract attention. By late April of that same year reports started coming in: 2 pinks had arrived in Burns, OR. In May, 2 in Alberta, 2 along the Mackenzie River, and 2 near the Arctic Coast. In July, a green was banded on Banks Island. No pictures were included with the study documents – oh how I wish there were some!!
  Submitted by Nadia Jones

1 comment:

  1. In a follow-up, I just found a note from a subsequent annual narrative where a visitor inquired if the pink birds were the result of swan-flamingo crosses.