What can you do in 1,000 days?

Postel has flown 18,000 miles, visited wetlands, and is sharing his story along the way.

 

Wetlands help us in many ways - by filtering our water, protecting us from storms, providing food like fish and rice and storing more carbon than all of the forests in the world. Beyond the benefits that humans derive from wetlands, shorebirds and other wildlife depend on these areas throughout their lives. Wetlands provide a rich abundance of insects and plants that migratory shorebirds like Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) rely on during their long journeys between the places they make their nests and the areas they spend the winter each year. Wetlands are the gas stations along these ancient highways in the sky.

 

For the last 1,000 days, the Director of Manomet’s Habitat for Shorebirds Project Brad Winn and partner biologists have tracked the whereabouts of the Whimbrel named “Postel” on his annual migrations.  Stopping at specific wetland habitats throughout the year, this crow-size shorebird has logged more than 18,000 miles during his three migratory cycles.

 

Named after the creek in Georgia where he was first fitted with a satellite transmitter, Postel has helped build a better understanding of Whimbrel migration, the threats they encounter, and the conservation actions needed to keep their populations healthy.  

 

Postel’s journey is part of a larger Whimbrel tracking project with researchers from the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and shorebird biologists with Environment Canada.

 

Though Whimbrels migrate thousands of miles each year, the satellite data show that Postel relies on four specific locations every year:

 

1. The saltmarshes in Georgia’s Altamaha River Delta every May;

2. His nesting area on the tundra of the Hudson Bay lowlands in Canada;

3. The saltmarshes near McClellanville, South Carolina, during his southbound migration;

4. A mangrove wetland forest in Maranhoa, Brazil, for his wintering habitat.  

 

 

Three out of the four sites Postel relies on during his epic migrations are coastal wetlands, rich with abundant food and safe places to rest.  These areas are simply bursting with a Whimbrels favorite food, fiddler crabs. The tiny crabs become the fuel these birds need to power their flight over oceans between continents.

 

 “Postel and the other Whimbrels in this project are ambassadors for the species, as well as representing other shorebirds with similar migratory needs. Through our collaborative research we have located previously unknown areas where Whimbrels gather to prepare for migration, seen how Whimbrels can fly right through hurricanes, identified a new distinct subpopulation, and discovered how significant a threat hunting is to shorebirds passing the Lesser Antilles.  ” said Winn.

 

Whimbrels, like humans, depend on healthy coasts and intact functioning wetlands to thrive.  We can help ensure that these birds have a future by appreciating, protecting, and restoring wetlands.  Postel relies on wetlands during his epic migrations to supply him with enough fuel for his next trans-oceanic flight. The wetlands in South Carolina, as well as its inhabitants, are connected to wetlands in Brazil by magnificent birds like Postel. What would happen if the saltmarsh that Postel relies on in South Carolina one day disappears?

 

 

This is an important story to remember on World Wetlands Day

 

 

Although many realize the importance of wetlands today, that wasn’t always the case. Since 1900, the world has lost over half of its wetlands. Today as we celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, we hope you will learn more about wetlands and what you can do to support them. We also hope you will visit a wetland near you!

 

 

Manomet’s Shorebird Recovery Program is committed to restore and maintain shorebird populations in the Western Hemisphere by building a stronger scientific foundation and implementing site-based, targeted conservation efforts . Learn more about our Shorebird Recovery Program and how you can support its efforts here.