November 19th, 2009 by Peggy Farabaugh
We have several Vermont Conservation Heros that we admire so much, we named sustainable furniture collections after them.
Dr. Rosalind Renfrew is a dedicated wildlife biologist in Vermont. We
first encountered Roz when she was leading the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas project but her passion for Vermont's birds
and their forest habitats has led her into many other important conservation projects since.
One of Roz's projects is bobolink migration. Amazingly these tiny birds (weight: about 1 ounce– the weight of 1 slice of bread) migrate from Vermont to various locations in South America, approximately 8000-12,000 miles per year, round trip. Roz and colleagues have tagged 433 of the charismatic songbirds to learn more about them and help preserve the species. The odds for recovering a tagged bird aren't so good. Actually statistically they're essentially zero.
Well, guess what? This year the first Bobolink, No. 0961-10071 was recovered just 12 miles from Roz's home in Vermont. The bird had been tagged 4300 miles away in Bolivia 3 years ago. Since then he had flown at least 35,000 miles (more than a trip around the world which is 25,000 miles at the equator) in migration before a fateful summer day in VT when he had a most unfortunate encounter with a house cat. How sad!
Roz notes that these magnificent flyers encounter numerous perils throughout their short and vulnerable lives. No. 0961-10071 may have achieved the average lifespan of a Bobolink which is about 5 years. Who knows? But regardless of the details of his demise, he is a special guy having flown all those miles and contributed much to the survival of his species through Roz's research.
Cat lovers (like me) take heed. Might better keep those cat's inside… and get the stray cats neutered, but that's for another day.