Institute for Applied
Ecology Seminar Series 1/2005
"TECHNOLOGY AND BIRDS
OF PREY: A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD"
Presenter: Professor David
Date: Tuesday February 7th
Time: 3.30pm to 4.30pm
Location: Room 11, Level B,
Building 6, University
The world of technology has
clashed with the world of raptors in many devastating ways over the last
several decades, e.g. organochlorine pesticides like DDT, collisions with
automobiles, planes, powerlines, and now windmills, a supposed
environmentally-friendly energy source. The organochlorines have now been
replaced with the less persistent but more highly toxic organophosphates such
as fenthion which is used as an avicide.
Military jets and ospreys
are at war in the skies over Labrador.
Electromagnetic fields from
powerlines are impacting upon physiological systems of raptors nesting and
roosting on them.
On the other hand, in many
ways technology is coming to the rescue of birds of prey, as well as other
birds. Two amazing developments in technology that
are now being applied to
raptors come to mind. First, the use of DNA
analyses in the laboratory
to produce genetic fingerprints unique to each bird revolutionized our ability
to identify individuals. Now DNA is widely used in forensic science,
taxonomy, behavioural ecology, and other research. A particular use is
determine the extent of monogamy in birds and raptors may well be among the few
avian taxons that do not cheat on their mates.
Second, attaching tiny
transmitters that bounce signals off satellites circling the earth now allow
biologists to follow migrating raptors, e.g.
golden eagles, peregrine
falcons, etc., from their breeding grounds south to their wintering areas as
well as the return trip north. Satellite telemetry, despite its current high
cost, can achieve in a year what it normally takes dozens of years to do by
traditional banding techniques. It is now being applied to peregrine falcons nesting
in cities to determine whether they are sources or sinks for the population.
Dr. David M. Bird, Director
of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre, and his graduate students have
been studying all of the above aspects of technology, both good and bad, on
raptors for the last 16 years .
About the speaker:
As a professor of Wildlife
Biology and Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre of McGill
University in Montreal, Quebec, Dr. David Bird has published over 150
scientific papers on birds of prey, supervised 30 graduate students, and
teaches several university-level courses, including one on scientific
communication. He has written and/or edited several books, including ³City
Critters: How to Live with Urban Wildlife², ³Bird¹s
Eye-View: A Practical
Compendium for Bird-Lovers², and ³The Bird Almanac: A Guide to Essential Facts
and Figures on the World¹s Birds². Dr. Bird is a past-president and current
vice-president of the Raptor Research Foundation Inc. (an international
organization devoted to birds of prey), former vice-president of the Society of
Canadian Ornithologists, an elected Fellow of the American Ornithologists¹
Union, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Birding Association,
and an elected member representing Canada on the prestigious International
Ornithological Committee. Besides his innumerable public lectures and radio
and television appearances, Dr. Bird is a regular columnist on birds for The
Gazette of Montreal and Bird Watcher¹s Digest magazine.
Everyone Welcome !!
For the full list of
seminars for this semester, visit our web site at http://aerg.canberra.edu.au/seminars.htm