It's the peak of spring migration thru America's most critical migratory corridor here in Deep South Texas, and colorful songbirds such as painted buntings and rose-breasted grosbeaks' are briefly stopping over to rest and refuel on their flight to breeding grounds throughout North America.
Dr. Bart Ballard, research scientist at Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M Kingsville, is conducting groundbreaking research on bird migration with state of the art radar. Dr. Bart Ballard, "We have always known that the Texas coast is an important area for bird migration, and we have really learned how important with this study." Dr. Ballard has discovered that literally hundreds of millions of birds funnel thru the lower Texas coast during the fall and winter migrations, far surpassing any other migratory routes that have been documented in North America. Ballard, "The closest passage rates in North America that has been measured is about 16 percent of what ours is. We are about six times more than the closest measurement of passage rates."
Dr. Ballard and his graduate students began their radar studies in 2007 and currently operate two sophisticated units during migrations. Ballard, "What we see is this white dot. That is the radar unit, and we have a two nautical mile radius and about four nautical miles across here is the range we are looking at. All these green dots are actually targets that the radar unit has identified as birds." Many birds, particularly in the spring, migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, and having access to undeveloped coastal habitat where they can rest and find a meal is critical to their continued survival. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.