Environment & Behavior Research

Saw Whet Owl Migration and Hematology Study
Tri-State staff assisted the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in trapping, banding and blood-sampling of migrating Saw Whet Owls on Assateague Island.

Wrens & Bluebirds
Tri-State assisted Tom Sproat (Biology Dept., Ball State University, Muncie IN) in a study on house wren nest defense behavior in 1998. Tri-State assisted Mr. Sproat by providing carcasses of house wrens and bluebirds to be used as taxidermied specimens that were placed on nest boxes. Responses by bluebirds and wrens were then studied.

Environmental Contaminants in Eagles & Osprey
Dr. Erica Miller has assisted the NJ Dept. of Fish, Game & Wildlife in their annual studies of environmental contaminants in Eagles (1994-present) and Osprey (1994). Dr. Heidi Stout assisted with this study in 1993. Tri-State assists by performing physical exams and drawing blood samples from the fledgling birds. The samples are later tested for environmental contaminants. NJ has published portions of the data in several accounts.

Environmental Pesticide Exposure in Cattle Egrets
This joint project between Tri-State and Manomet Observatory for the Conservation Sciences was conducted in 1997 and 1998. The objective was to compare the overall growth rates and blood cholinesterase activity levels between wild raised and captive reared cattle egrets. Tri-State raised hatchling cattle egrets on an organic diet and took weekly samples and measurements. The birds were then fitted with telemetry devices, released into a wild population, and monitored until they migrated.Partial results were presented by Jen Friedel and Cheryl Hoggard at the NWRA symposium in 1999. Partial results have also been published by Manomet.

Screech Owls and Pesticide Exposure Analysis
Master’s student Ngaio Richards is hoping to develop a protocol for the diagnosis of insecticide and rodenticide exposure in Screech-owls, with a list of potential symptoms exhibited by affected birds. Tri-State provided three years of data on Screech owls treated at the Frink Center for Wildlife.

Wildlife Entrapment Study
In 2001, Tri-State provided case data to assist Renn Tumlison of Henderson State University with a study on the effects of discarded fishing baits on native wildlife. In 2001, 20 birds were brought to Tri-State because they were either entangled in fishing line or had injuries from fish hooks embedded in various parts of their bodies. Results of this nation-wide study will hopefully be reported in the Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science and may help to bring attention to this wildlife hazard.

Avian Pesticide Information Network Trial
In 2002, Tri-State began collecting data for this cooperative trial of the American Bird Conservancy, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Geological Survey and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Samples collected at random from participating wildlife rehabilitation centers will provide data on the frequency of pesticide poisonings in wild birds, especially unsuspected poisonings. In addition, this trial hopes to validate the diagnostic processes for detecting pesticide exposure in wild birds.

SEANET (Seabird Ecological Assessment Network)
For several years now, Tri-State has been working cooperatively with veterinarians and biologists at the Center for Conservation Medicine (Tufts University) and the Wildlife Trust, to gain a better understanding of mortality events in seabirds. Tri-State collects data from live birds undergoing rehabilitation (age, location found, cause of injury, radiographs, bloodwork, etc.), and collects tissue samples from deceased birds. By combining similar data collected from the northeastern U.S. and Atlantic Canada, we hope to discover the causes of morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death) in these birds. These birds are high on the food chain, and as such are important indicators or the health of the marine ecosystem.

Lead Toxicity
In the fall of 2002, a veterinary student from the University of Pennsylvania used caseload records from Tri-State to determine the accuracy of currently suggested guidelines for diagnosis of lead toxicities in waterfowl, using blood lead concentrations. As a result of this study, Tri-State lowered the level at which they consider lead to be toxic to waterfowl and adjusted some of their treatments accordingly.

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