Claire Stuyck: Finding Optimism in the Little Things
Biologist Claire Stuyck is a wildlife researcher and educator who loves birds. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, where she stays connected to Nature not only through her work with the Alaska Songbird Institute, but also through the many outdoor activities she enjoys in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Hiking and paddling allow her to immerse her senses in the beauty around her and she enthusiastically shares the joy she discovers.
As songbirds migrate through Interior Alaska, Claire and her team of volunteers at Craemer's Field set up delicate mist nets in the forest and across ponds to gently catch the birds. Banding occurs during spring and fall migration. Roughly 4,500 birds are banded each year!
The birds are weighed & sexed (is it a male, female, juvenile, or breeding bird?). Their overall health is also assessed (fat, mass, breeding condition) and each bird is given a unique band placed around it's leg. If the bird is caught in another mist net elsewhere along it's migration route, that band allows researchers to see where & when it was caught previously.
Changes in habitat caused by humans or climate impact these migratory songbirds. Scientists, like Claire, use the information gathered during banding to better understand changes in bird populations in Interior Alaska, including timing of migration, breeding, and overall productivity.
Over 3,000 students visit Craemer's Field each year and learn about the banding process. Claire loves sharing her passion for these feathered wonders with children, connecting them to the marvels & mysteries of migration.