An Oregon bird flies to Brazil and back

ASHLAND, Ore. – The Klamath Bird Observatory in Ashland has conducted the first study of its kind.

GPS trackers have recorded the migratory pattern of a particular Western Purple Martin, who flew roundtrip from Oregon to Brazil.

Dr. Sarah Rockwell tells NBC5 News that the bird was tracked along different stops across Baja California and Central America, before making its way to the southeastern coast of Brazil.

The Western Purple Martin, Dr. Rockwell says, is a sub-species of Purple Martin and is considered at-risk due to its decreasing population. The GPS tracking data will help researchers better determine conservation efforts, as they now know where the bird spends its time while away from home.

Dr. Rockwell says that because the batteries in the trackers are so small, they are unable to transmit the data they store. Researchers must wait until the bird returns to its home breeding grounds before catching it and collecting the tracker. The Klamath Bird Observatory originally set out 31 trackers, 8 of which they’ve been able to get back.

Dr. John Alexander, executive director of the Klamath Bird Observatory, says this migration data is useful in studying how this particular sub-species is faring, and how well it survives its long journey.

Conservation efforts are at the heart of these studies. Researchers are able to better respond to the needs of this sub-species if they know the precise locations of where these birds spend their time.

Dr. Rockwell also says she engages in the International Purple Martin Working Group, which includes researchers from the U.S as well as Brazil. Tracking capabilities allow scientists from around the world to collaborate on the same study, creating a connected community of research.

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NBC5 News Reporter Natalie Sirna grew up in Glendora, CA and attended the University of La Verne. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in English and served as Editor-in-Chief of La Verne Magazine. Her experience as an editor piqued her interest in broadcast journalism. When she's not reading or writing, Natalie enjoys oil painting and playing her electric guitar.
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