August 8th – A Letter from Afar

[Teegan Docherty first visited Ruthven as part of the Biodiversity program at McMaster. She did her 4th year project on birds at Ruthven in 2004 – this included doing the MAPS banding that Summer. Since then she has worked on projects around the world and got her Master’s from….some university in England…..]

Hi Rick,

Thanks for the note. I am still on San Clemente Island managing the sage sparrow project. Unfortunately I am not going to be home at that time but it sounds great. [The September 17-19 Bird Festival at Ruthven] Its exciting that there is so much going on at Ruthven. I will actually be in Ontario the following weekend and perhaps I can time my trip so that I make a trip to Ruthven if you will be banding.

I would be very happy to write up something for the blog… however, because my work is on a Navy base the navy prevents us from releasing any photos or information. However, I will ask our Navy biologist about it and see what she says. She is usually very reasonable.

Things are going great down here. I am still loving my job. I am right in the middle of my second year of a juvenile survival study involving radio transmitters. We are getting some really interesting data and finding that the juveniles have a very low chance of survival into their second year. This seems to be driven by rat predation coupled with pretty high raptor predation. We have (like so many pacific islands) a big rat problem since they were introduced. The sage sparrow is mostly a ground bird perhaps making them more vulnerable.

So life in California is pretty great. But I definitely miss home and miss the Eastern birds and forests. I am hoping that within the next year I can find myself back in Ontario but the opportunities for an endangered bird biologist/conservation biologist seem to be limited. I am still thinking about going back to do a PhD. I am still interested in the tropics and still in love with banding.

Being so close to the Mexican border we can get very cheap flights out of Tijuana to other parts of Mexico. Recently, some friends and I went to Oaxaca to do some birding. It was pretty amazing. Some highlights were Russet-crowned motmot, Emerald toucanet, Boucard’s wren, trogons, slaty vireo, and ocellated thrasher. I have attached a photo of the motmot. Oaxaca was a great place to travel through. Great mountains, forests, beaches, etc. Not many tourist either while we were there.

I hope to see you in September. Always great to hear from you! I will let you know about posting Sage Sparrow related info on your blog.

Take care,

Russet-crowned Motmot

Russet-crowned Motmot

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