Billings Gazette: Feathers reveal clues to bird birthplaces

UC professor Brooke Crowley used isotopic analysis of feathers to track wide-ranging birds

The Billings Gazette highlighted efforts by University of Cincinnati professor Brooke Crowley to track wide-ranging birds of prey on their long migrations using isotopic analysis of their feathers.

Crowley's research has demonstrated how effective the technique is to track elusive or wide-ranging animals such as hawks and falcons across landscapes. She worked with an international team of researchers to track kestrels, goshawks and other predatory birds.

"By analyzing the feathers for another chemical, hydrogen, the scientists can zero in even more on the place where birds were born," outdoors writer Brett French wrote.

"Such information can help scientists track birds that migrate. This is important information that can help show why birds may change where the fly, maybe because a forest has been logged or developed in some other way. This helps researchers understand human effects on birds that migrate."

Crowley's study was published in October in the journal Ecosphere.

Read the Billings Gazette story.

Featured image at top: Merlin feathers. Photo/Brooke Crowley

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