Bird research leads to bird forecasts

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TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - The biggest week in American birding is just around the corner, and behind the scenes volunteers are collecting data with the largest bird research station of its kind in the country. Now that spring is here, the great song bird migration is already underway and a group of UT students are helping out the research process. Dr. Hans Gottgens is a professor in environmental sciences at the University of Toledo. He said, “It is the warbler capital of the world I would say this time of the year.” Gottgens and his students just recently returned from a field project with Black Swamp Bird Observatory along the shore of Lake Erie. The group observed research methods that are used at the nation’s largest bird research station which is located in Northwest Ohio.

Alexa Seaman is one of the students that participated in the field project. She said, “I chose environmental science for a reason. I love going outside and it is one thing learning about it in a textbook, when you actually get to do it and experience everything. It is an amazing experience.” The song birds pile up along the southwest shore of Lake Erie between the middle of April and the end of May each year. Researchers have been collecting data each year since 1992. Now that data is being used in a variety of ways including bird forecasts each spring. The bird forecast is based off of the weather forecast and decades of bird research. That information can lead to an accurate outlook of the amount and type of birds that will take a pit stop in northwest Ohio a few days ahead of time. While the research data is important to birders and the economic boom that flies into northwest Ohio each spring, the hands on experience is just as important to students as well. The number of birds and birders will increase in the next couple of weeks. The biggest week in American Birding runs from May 6th through May 15th.

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