Many shorebird populations are declining. To understand what threats are impacting survival, Manomet is conducting research to uncover habitat needs and migratory pathways of large shorebirds called Whimbrels.
Whimbrels breed on the tundra of Arctic and sub-Arctic North America and some migrate to the saltmarshes and beaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts from July to October. While on the Cape, they feast on fiddler crabs by day and roost on barrier sand-spits at night. Fiddler crabs are a locally abundant food source that Whimbrels use to stockpile the energy reserves needed to fuel their subsequent non-stop flight to their coastal wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America. During the first two weeks of September, Manomet staff will deploy up to four lightweight satellite transmitters on juvenile Whimbrels in the marshes of Cape Cod during the first southbound migration of their lives.
These transmitters weigh only five grams and have the capability to relay specific location data for several years. The data we receive daily allow us to answer specific questions about migration such as the:
- Identification of important feeding and roosting locations at migratory stopover sites such as Cape Cod
- Timing and patterns of migration
- Location of Arctic and sub-Arctic nesting sites and use of tropical wintering sites
- Identification of threats the birds encounter and danger zones during migration