In 2013 and 2014, the Conservancy collaborated with Dr. Samantha Richman, Research Scientist at Long Point Waterfowl to study nutrient allocation in Common eiders throughout the annual cycle. Using diets specifically designed to represent natural food sources, Dr. Richman and her colleagues traced these nutrients from their food to the eiders’ body reserves and ultimately into egg production. Because protein and lipids are used differently at different times of the year, this study documented how specific nutrients are distributed to feathers, blood, and fat stores, providing critical information to refine estimates of natal origins, important molting areas, and resource use during the breeding season.
Growth rates and plumage development
The growth rates and plumage development of many waterfowl species had not previously been documented, yet this period is an important part of the life cycle. Measuring growth rates and plumage development utilized the the Conservancy's captive collection to collect never before documented or published data important to our understanding of the natural history of many waterfowl, including rare and endangered species. Chicks were weighed at hatch and then weekly until the birds fledged. Along with weights, measurements of several body parts (bill, tarsus and wing) were collected. With all species fed the same diet and reared under the same conditions, the data collected from each is comparable to the others. The variation in growth rates and development between species can be attributed to the influence of the wild habitats and lifestyles of each species. Plumage development in many species of waterfowl is still poorly understood. Color marking the feathers of young birds in juvenile plumage allows us to document feather replacement and plumage variation within known age groups. This information is especially important for species in which the plumage patterns are not well known and there is a need for a means of identifying birds by age and sex in the field.
If your organization would like to utilize the Conservancy's avian resources and expertise, please contact us.