Satellites Are Helping To Feed Tired And Hungry Birds
This spring, migrating shorebirds came across roughly 7000 acres of temporary wetland habitat to feed on during their stopover in California’s Central Valley.
The BirdReturns program, created by The Nature Conservancy of California, is an effort to provide “pop-up habitats” for some of the millions of shorebirds, such as sandpipers and plovers that migrate along the Pacific Flyway, a route that spans from Alaska to South America. Birds flying on this journey seek out the increasingly rare wetlands teeming with tasty insects to fuel their long-distance flights.
Over the last century, California’s Central Valley has lost 95% of the wetlands habitat to development, agriculture, and other land use changes. As a solution, scientists use big data, binoculars, and rice paddies.
The Nature Conservancy works closely with two other organizations, who are using NASA data to enable the program. Point Blue Conservation Science is using data from the NASA/USGS Landsat satellite to map surface water in the Central Valley and determine the likelihood a given spot will have water any given month. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is using data from Landsat and NASA’s MODIS instrument to expand their network of citizen science observations. With the NASA data, the Cornell Lab is able to take individual bird observations and predict how abundant a given bird species will be at any location.
This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=12013
By: NASA Goddard.