Tucuman, Argentina 2015

Workshop attendees

Workshop attendees

From 29 October to 4 November, 2015, a workshop was held on zoonotic disease transmission by migratory birds and bats, funded by the Argentinian Ministry of Education.  Attendees included: Patricia Capllonch, Karina Soria, Rodrigo Araoz, Diego Ortiz, Emanuel Perez Bogado, Ezequiel Barbosa (Universidad Nacional de Tucuman), Adrian Diaz, David Vergara, Agustin Quaglia, Tobias Rojas, Ernesto Verga (Universidad Nacional de Cordoba), and Alex Jahn (Universidade Estadual Paulista).

Several talks were presented, including one on the use of light-level geolocators to study animal migration (Alex Jahn), molt schedules of migratory birds (Patricia Capllonch), and another on the current state of knowledge of zoonotic disease transmission in the Neotropics and beyond (Adrian Diaz). We also spent several days at a field site north of Tucuman city banding migratory and resident birds (see pictures), and practicing deploying light-level geolocators.

Red-eyed Vireo captured in Tucuman

Red-eyed Vireo captured in Tucuman

Greater Wagtail-tyrant captured in Tucuman

Greater Wagtail-tyrant captured in Tucuman

Small-billed Elaenia captured in Tucuman

Small-billed Elaenia captured in Tucuman

Major gaps in our knowledge about the potential for migratory birds to transmit zoonotic diseases within (and to and from) South America were identified, including:

  1. Information on migratory routes and migratory connectivity (where individuals from different breeding populations overwinter) of numerous migratory bird species.
  2. A description of the genetic variability of different strains of disease (e.g., Saint Louis encephalitis) across Argentina and the continent.
  3. The potential for different migratory species to amplify and carry pathogenic strains across the landscape.
Fork-tailed Flycatcher captured in Tucuman

Fork-tailed Flycatcher captured in Tucuman

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Brasilia 2015

In October 2015, Jesse Lopes, Sebastian Lyons, Shazeeda Ameerally and Alex Jahn spent about 2 weeks in Brasilia, Brazil catching Fork-tailed Flycatchers and monitoring their nests. The region was experiencing strong drought conditions and the birds appeared to be delaying their breeding schedule. We caught several birds (one with a geolocator deployed in 2013) and found over a dozen nests…

Sebastian measuring a flycatcher

Sebastian measuring a flycatcher

Jesse taking down a mist net.

Jesse taking down a mist net.

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Presentations at X NOC / XXII CBO

Several of us (Maggie MacPherson, Valentina Gómez Bahamón, and Alex Jahn) recently gave talks at the X Neotropical Ornithological Congress (NOC) / XXII Congresso Brasileiro de Ornitologia (CBO). Valentina even won the Best Student Talk for her presentation: Aerodynamic efficiency of wing morphotypes in the partially migratory Forked-tail Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana). Congratulations Valentina!

Additonally, Ivan Celso Carvalho and Vanesa Bejarano presented the following posters at the meeting:

Bejarano poster
Carvalho poster

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Vichada 2015

Tyrannus savana monachus (Photo: Laura Céspedes)

Tyrannus savana monachus (Photo: Laura Céspedes)

In March José Ignacio Giraldo, Laura Céspedes, Rocio Peña and Marcela Benavides traveled to the Reserva Natural y Productiva Tomo Grande, located in the department of Vichada, in eastern Colombia, in order to continue the collection of data on reproductive biology of Fork-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus savana). The non-migratory subspecies monachus breeds in the region, but the details of its reproductive biology remain unknown.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana monachus) nest

Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana monachus) nest

The first nest was found on March 9, close to another nest monitored last season. It contained three nestlings approximately three days old. Another nest that had two nestlings that were about eight days old was found on March 12, which reaffirmes data collected here last season, that the beginning of the breeding season for this subspecies is in February.

Most Fork-tailed Flycatcher nests were built in small trees (Curatella americana), generally at a height of 2 m above the ground. During our stay in the reserve, we noted successful nests. In early April, several flycatcher pairs were building nests, while others were in the incubation stage, suggesting that the reproductive period for this subspecies could be extend into May.

Fork-tailed Flycatchers at Reserva Tomo Grande (Photo: Laura Céspedes)

Fork-tailed Flycatchers at Reserva Tomo Grande (Photo: Laura Céspedes).

We also saw the passage of hundreds of migrants from the migratory subspecies (T. s. savana), which breeds in central and southern South America and arrives in northern South America in March to spend the austral winter (Apr-Aug). At a ranch called Japon, close to Reserva Natural y Productiva Tomo Grande, we saw hundreds of these flycatcher migrants consuming Curatella and melastome fruit. After eating, flycatchers continued migrating.

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Roraima and Guyana 2015

Natural grassland in Roraima

Natural grassland in Roraima

In March and April, Quillen Vidóz, Sabrina Cortés and Alex Jahn traveled to the state of Roraima in northern Brazil to search for Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana) nests. It is thought that the subspecies monachus (non-migratory) breeds in this region, yet no active nests have yet been documented in the state of Roraima. On 20 March, we found the first nest (with one nestling) near the city of Boa Vista, in a grassland just off a major highway (BR-401). We found about a dozen more nests during the following days around outskirts of Boa Vista.

Conversion of Roraima grasslands to soy

Conversion of Roraima grasslands to soy

About 30 km east of Boa Vista, we came across a large roost of the migratory subspecies of Fork-tailed Flycatcher (savana), which breed in southern and central South America and spend the austral winter (Apr-Aug) in northern parts of the continent, including Colombia, Venezuela, Roraima and Guyana. We estimated the size of this roost to be at least 3000 flycatchers, which spend the night in several mango trees. We set up two nets and captured about 50 individuals in the space of half an hour. All captured birds were of the migratory subspecies savana, which had moderate levels of fat, indicating that they were still migrating. Several were undergoing active flight feather molt, suggesting that these birds begin molt during fall migration. Near the roost, we saw evidence of large-scale conversion of Roraima’s grasslands to soybean monoculture.

Capturing Fork-tailed Flycatchers at a roost in Roraima

Capturing Fork-tailed Flycatchers at a roost in Roraima

Arriving in the Rupununi savanas, Guyana

Arriving in the Rupununi savanas, Guyana

We then traveled to Dadanawa Ranch in southern Guyana, where we spent three weeks with local counterpart Asaph Wilson searching for and monitoring Fork-tailed Flycatcher nests (subspecies monachus). Most were already incubating when we arrived in early April, and were hatching by the middle of the month. We also saw several flocks of migrating T. s. savana migrating overhead, though did not find any roosts of this subspecies as we had seen in Roraima in March. Thanks to Dadanawa Ranch and Guyana EPA for help with coordinating our visit.

Stopping for fruit in Roraima

Stopping for fruit in Roraima

We had the opportunity during this visit to accompany members of the South Rupununi Conservation Society (SRCS) in search for Red Siskins (Sporagra cucullata), which they are monitoring. Special thanks to Nicholas Cyril (“Bakes”), Chung Liu, and Asaph Wilson for coordinating our visit. We made new friends during this trip and look forward to working with the SRCS to promote research and conservation of Guyana’s birds.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher nestlings

Fork-tailed Flycatcher nestlings

Non-migratory Fork-tailed Flycatcher (subspecies monachus)

Non-migratory Fork-tailed Flycatcher (subspecies monachus)

Measuring a Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Measuring a Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Rupununi savana

Rupununi savana

SRCS team in Guyana

SRCS team in Guyana

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Summer 2014-2015: Argentina and Brazil

From October 2014 to January 2015, we studied Fork-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus savana) at two sites in Argentina and at two sites in Brazil. These birds begin arriving in Argentina and Brazil in September after spending the austral winter in northern South America (primarily Colombia, Guyana and Venezuela). They breed in Argentina and Brazil from October to mid-January (austral summer). We worked at two study sites in Argentina:

Reserva Natural El Destino, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. Team members: Diego Tuero, Tyler Michels, Florencia Pucheta, Diego Masson, and Pamela Malmoria.

Pamela and Diego banding/Pamela y Diego anillando

Pamela and Diego banding/Pamela y Diego anillando

Pamela checking a nest/Pamela chequeando nido

Pamela checking a nest/Pamela chequeando nido

Reserva El Destino field crew/equipo de trabajo de la Reserva El Destino

Reserva El Destino field crew/equipo de trabajo de la Reserva El Destino

Reserva Provincial Parque Luro, La Pampa Province, Argentina. Team members: Jose Sarasola, Joaquin Cereghetti, Arkaitz Pedrajas, Iñigo Zuazagoitia, Alex Jahn, Emilia Rebollo, and Sebastian Lyons.

Arkaitz taking field notes/Arkaitz tomando notas de campo

Arkaitz taking field notes/Arkaitz tomando notas de campo

Flycatcher caught with a model flycatcher in La Pampa/Tijereta capturada en La Pampa, usando un modelo

Flycatcher caught with a model flycatcher in La Pampa/Tijereta capturada en La Pampa, usando un modelo

Joaquin and Sebastian banding flycatchers/Joaquin y Sebastian anillando tijeretas

Joaquin and Sebastian banding flycatchers/Joaquin y Sebastian anillando tijeretas

And two sites in Brazil:

Parque da Alvorada, Distrito Federal, Brazil. Team members: Alex Jahn, Jose Ignacio Giraldo, Genecy Ribeiro, and Jesse Lopes.

Genecy and Jesse banding flycatchers/Genecy y Jesse anillando tijeretas

Genecy and Jesse banding flycatchers/Genecy y Jesse anillando tijeretas

Jose Ignacio measuring a flycatcher/Jose Ignacio midiendo una tijereta

Jose Ignacio measuring a flycatcher/Jose Ignacio midiendo una tijereta

Estação Ecológica de Itirapina, State of São Paulo, Brazil. Team members: Marcela Benavides, Ivan Celso Carvalho Provinciato, and Vanesa Bejarano.

Marcela banding a flycatcher/Marcela anillando tijereta

Marcela banding a flycatcher/Marcela anillando tijereta

Ivan, Marcela y Vanesa en el campo/Ivan, Marcela and Vanesa in the field

Ivan, Marcela y Vanesa en el campo/Ivan, Marcela and Vanesa in the field

Ivan and Marcela taking a flycatcher wing picture/Ivan y Marcela tomando foto del ala de una tijereta

Ivan and Marcela taking a flycatcher wing picture/Ivan y Marcela tomando foto del ala de una tijereta

At each site, we banded adult flycatchers and deployed light-level geolocators. We also monitored their nests, and at two sites (Reserva Natural El Destino, Estação Ecológica de Itirapina) filmed the nests to study parental behavior.

We also recovered several geolocators deployed last year. Data so far suggest that Fork-tailed Flycatchers that breed in Brazil (such as this individual: https://batchgeo.com/map/9476b5c177b3ed79fa5e3a3f2ed39462) and Argentina (such as this one: https://batchgeo.com/map/7db6b6c247579d794e70b277d397bd93) spend the winter in Colombia and Venezuela. After two more seasons of data collection, we hope to better understand the behavioral and molecular ecology of these birds, in order to evaluate the evolution of their life history and migratory strategies.

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Poster on morphometric variation of Fork-tailed Flycatchers

At the recent American Ornithologists’ Union annual meeting in Colorado, Ivan Celso Carvalho (a student at the Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil), presented a poster on the morphometric variation of wings of Fork-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus savana): AOU poster

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