Science Spotlight

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Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


New research shows climate change may harm migratory songbirds

Hermit Thrush perched on a tree branch. Long-distance Neotropical migrants like the Hermit Thrush may be more vulnerable to climate change than other types of songbirds.
New research by CDFW Wildlife Ecologist Dr. Brett Furnas shows that Neotropical migrant songbirds are shifting their summer ranges to higher elevations in response to climate change.

Science Spotlight: Oiled Wildlife Experts Make the Case for Rescue and Release Over Euthanasia

Oil covered duck held and soaped by orange gloved person wearing plastic apron
Scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and University of California, Davis have published an opinion essay that advocates rehabilitation and release, rather than euthanization, of animals injured by oil spills.

For 21 Years, Volunteer Has Kept Tabs on Morro Bay’s Black Brant

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John Roser began hearing the stories shortly after he moved to Los Osos, San Luis Obispo County, on the shores of Morro Bay in the mid-1990s.

Study of Songbirds’ Calls Provides Important Climate Insight

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Two avian researchers recently completed a groundbreaking study on the effects of climate change, based on the calls of California’s songbirds. By recording the sounds made by eight different songbird species, and tracking the dates they are most vocal and how frequently they sing, the scientists were able to develop a method to measure how the birds are adjusting to climate change.

Ridgway’s Rail Release

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The Ridgway’s rail is a grayish-brown, chicken-sized bird with a long, downward curving bill and a conspicuous whitish rump. Previously known as the clapper rail, the species name was changed in 2014 to honor ornithologist Robert Ridgway. Three subspecies of Ridgway’s rail are resident in California, all of which depend on mudflats or very shallow water (wetland habitat) where there is both forage and taller plant material to provide cover at high tide. They rely on marsh plants such as cordgrass and pickleweed for breeding and feeding.

Dove Banding

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As the second half of California’s split dove season kicks off, dove hunters may put more than birds in their bags. They may harvest a bird with a band on its right leg – thus getting an opportunity to contribute important data that will help guide future management efforts.

Sage Grouse Relocation

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Five agencies in two states recently partnered to help a tiny population of Greater Sage Grouse avoid extinction along the California-Nevada border. Biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Geological Survey are working together in this first-of-its kind study.