Researchers tag and track birds at Emiquon Nature Preserve to maintain habitat stability

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FULTON COUNTY, Ill (WMBD) — “Bird is the word” at the Emiquon Nature Preserve in Fulton County.

Researchers with the Nature Conservancy in Illinois near Havana are in the process of restoring the Emiquon Nature Preserve.

Part of that project involves tagging birds and tracking them to see how they use the wetlands.
Director of River Conservation, Doug Blodgett, says it’s been a success since the start.

“Since we started this restoration in 2007, we’ve set several records for the number of birds that are using this habitat. For example, ducks come here and sometimes we’ll have a half a million waterfowl out here for a few days,” said Blodgett.

Now, more than 300 species of birds call Emiquon home.

Director of Forbes Biological Station, Auriel Fournier, explains why tagging is important

“We’re trying to understand how much of the time they are spending, using the Emiquon Preserve, and how they are moving around the preserve. Often times birds need different kinds of habitats,” said Fournier.

Blodgett says this time of year is usually ideal for bird watching.

“There are a lot of birds. We are just at the beginning of the waterfowl migration, it’s just gearing up now. We’ve had a lot of other wetland birds have already come through this year,” he said.

These birds have trouble flying below the radar.

“We can put a tag on a bird, and then we can use those towers, and as those birds fly around in the air, different towers will detect them, and so we can tell where they are moving,” said Fournier.

The birds are tagged in a way that doesn’t harm them or their ability to fly. About a dozen birds are being monitored for now but several hundred more could make the list in the future.

The Nature Conservancy also has a public use area for those to come out and do some bird watching.

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