Maina Handmaker

PhD Candidate

Department of Environmental Conservation

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Whimbrel foraging ecology during migratory stopover

Through our Whimbrel movement ecology work, we have discovered that Whimbrel exhibit extreme individual-level site fidelity during migratory stopover -- individuals return to the same precise feeding areas over time, and individuals' feeding territories hardly overlap with each other -- despite the fact that they all share the same roost site at night!

This raises some big questions: do these individual foraging territories differ in habitat quality? Do individuals experience different foraging success rates in different habitat types? Are there tradeoffs between foraging habitat quality and how far an individual flies to reach their foraging territory from the central nocturnal roost? 

We are digging into these questions by conducting Whimbrel foraging observations to understand whether metrics like foraging success rate, prey searching and handling time, and competition levels differ between habitat types.
Conducting focal foraging observations of Whimbrel
Collecting data on Whimbrel foraging behavior
Looking for foraging Whimbrel in the oyster reefs