Featured mission: Tracking the golden-winged warbler
A VHF receiver antenna was attached to the strut of volunteer pilot Dan Silvers' Cessna 182 to locate tagged golden-winged warblers. Photo by Dan Silvers/LightHawk
The golden-winged warbler is a small bird currently experiencing a substantial decline in population. It has reached the point where it is currently being considered for listing on the Endangered Species Act. Last year, scientists with the University of Maine placed 35 VHF-coded nanotags on both male and female birds near Rhineland, Wisconsin.
A year later, LightHawk volunteer
pilot Dan Silvers flew scientists and their radio telemetry gear over the same area in an attempt to relocate as many of the tagged birds as possible. This required mounting a VHF receiver antenna to the strut of his Cessna 182 ahead of the flight.
Graduate student Emily Filiberti was a passenger on the flight and documented the locations tags signals were received. Photo by Dan Silvers/LightHawk
The tags attached to the birds turn on each day, starting at 10 p.m. and turning off again at 8:30 a.m. They transmit a signal every 30 seconds and have a range of 5 kilometers. This means it's important for the flight to be conducted at slower speed to ensure the greatest chance of receiving a signal.
Emily Filiberti, a graduate student researcher at the University
of Maine explained the importance of LightHawk's flight to this research. "This flight was incredibly useful to us. One of our objectives was to understand if females are dispersing to other locations in subsequent breeding seasons (i.e., breeding in different locations annually). We already had a sense that males rarely disperse off of their original territories and wanted to be able to confirm the same for females. Since we deployed 20 VHF-coded NanoTags on females last year, we were able to detect them this year to see if they remained on the same sites as original capture. However, we needed to be able to search an extended radius around our study sites to confirm that females hadn't dispersed and were breeding in different locations. Searching this entire radius would have been close to impossible on ground given our resources and availability. By utilizing LightHawk and
our volunteer pilot, we were able to conduct aerial telemetry that allowed us to search for tags miles away from their original breeding territories!"
A golden-winged warbler with nanotag attached. Photo by Dan Silvers/LightHawk
Additionally, they learned that the nanotags, which are quite small, are able to be detected from above. This information will be shared with other researchers studying the warblers. This illustrates the value small aircraft bring to conservation research. A small plane allowed researchers to fly slow enough, and at an altitude that allowed them to receive the VHS signals from small electronic tags that can be attached to small birds.
Thanks to LightHawk volunteer pilot Dan Silvers for donating his time, aircraft and resources to furthering the research of our University of Maine partners.
A VHF receiver was used to locate the tagged birds so their location could be documented. Photo by Dan Silvers/LightHawk
Register for AMFI today to receive Early Bird Discount!
Sept. 23-25 - Washington, DC
LightHawk's Annual Meeting and Fly-In is set for September 23-25 at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Join us for presentations from aviators and conservation experts. Then enjoy a fabulous dinner at the museum featuring keynote speaker Zora Rutherford, the youngest woman to fly around the world solo.
September 23-25, 2022
Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
EARLY BIRD TICKET PRICES
All Weekend - $250
All Day Saturday - $150
Saturday Dinner Only - $100
* Early Bird prices for "All Weekend" and "All Day Saturday" tickets increase $50 after June 30, 2022.
LightHawk named Partnership of the Year by US Fish & Wildlife Service
United States Fish Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams (left) and USFWS Southwest Region Director Amy Lueders (right) poses with LightHawk staff members Esther Duke and Audrey Ek-Psomas at the award ceremony.
We're proud to share with you that LightHawk recently received the External Partnership of the Year Award from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest region, in large part due to our work helping restore the Mexican wolf, masked bobwhite quail, California condor and black-footed ferret populations.. We work with USFWS on a number of issues, including endangered species survival. LightHawk volunteer pilots have flown all of these species and more over the years. Endangered species transport is a growing opportunity for the organization to significantly impact wildlife conservation.
Over past two years, LightHawk volunteer pilots have flown:
- 2,021 quail and planning we are planning another four flights this summer.
- 101 Mexican wolves, including our third year of cross-foster effort (21 pups)
- 40 California condors and many additional flights for radio telemetry to locate birds in the wild
- 59 black-footed
Art exhibit with photos captured on LightHawk flights
Photographer and LightHawk friend/partner J Henry Fair will have his work featured at the Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake. The temporary exhibit opens July 1 and features his aerial photographs of Adirondack Park.
Adirondack Park is the largest publicly protected area in the United States mainland. It is a place many people visit to rest, relax and recharge
in mountains, forests, lakes and streams. Despite this, it bears the marks of nearly 200 years of use and abuse.
According to the museum's description, "The impact of human activity in the Adirondack Park is often easiest to grasp when seen from above. Scarring of the landscape from mining, paper mills, agriculture, recreation, and climate change are not always apparent from the ground, often hidden from road view and scenic trails. Photographer J. Henry Fair's monumental aerial photographic prints document changes in the landscape, from the towering piles of tailings (a byproduct of iron mining) on Lyon Mountain to the
acreage of trees cut to allow the creation of an Olympic bobsled run. Resembling colorful abstract paintings, these images sometimes require a closer look to fully realize that beauty hides a less attractive story."
If you get the experience, visit the exhibit and see for yourself how flight can provide a unique and awe-inspiring perspective on conservation issues. LightHawk is proud to have participated in this project and excited for our friend and partner J Henry Fair.
LightHawk Photo of the Month
Renowned conservation photographer and longtime LightHawk partner, Jon Waterman. He is working on a National Geographic book Atlas of American Wilds and a film about wilderness, to be released in 2023, to celebrate the 2024 60th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. This photo from Utah's features Grand Staircase Escalante Monument. Photo by Jon Waterman/LightHawk
Subscribe to LightHawk's YouTube channel
Have you subscribed to LightHawk's YouTube channel? We would like to grow this outlet in the future but we need your help! We need a minimum of 100 subscribers to customize our YouTube address. Once we are able to customize the address, it will be easier for others to find it. As the channel grows, we hope to create more content highlighting the work of our volunteer pilots and conservation partners. Please take a moment to subscribe to the LightHawk YouTube channel at the link below.
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