Winnie the record-breaking whimbrel went missing and is now presumed dead by Bryan Watts, the director of the College’s Center for Conservation Biology.
Last spring, scientists fitted Winnie, a gray-brown bird related to herons, with a satellite tracking device and released Winnie into the wild to track her migratory path. Winnie flew from the Delmarva Peninsula to the McKenzie River Basin on the Alaska-Canada border, covering 3,200 miles in 146 hours, setting “a new distance record in the flight range of this species,” Watts said at the time.
Watts speculates that as Winnie made her way back to the east coast this year, she ran into strong headwinds that carried the bird to a hostile environment that ultimately led to her death.
“The area where she went down is remote and the ground cover is really thick, so it’s not likely that the tracking unit or bird will be recovered,” Watts said in a press release.
Watts plans to continue studying whimbrels.