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Colleen M. Handel

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A 6-year study of shorebird use of intertidal habitats of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta revealed this area to be one of the premiere sites for shorebirds throughout the Holarctic and worthy of designation as a Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. The study area, which covered 10% (300 km2) of the delta's intertidal flats, regularly hosted 17 species of shorebirds between late April and mid-October. The greatest use was during the postbreeding period (late June-October), when Dunlins (Calidris alpina), Western Sandpipers (C. mauri), and Rock Sandpipers (C. ptilocnemis), each with large local nesting populations, accounted for 95% of the shorebirds recorded. Peak counts during...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: The Condor
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Beak abnormalities are rare among adult birds and, typically, are not widespread in a given population, within a region, or across multiple species. A high concentration of beak deformities was recently documented in Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and other resident avian species in Alaska. We describe a parallel condition in Northwestern Crows (Corvus caurinus) that signals the emergence of a multispecies epizootic. On the basis of 186 Northwestern Crows captured at six sites in Alaska during 2007 and 2008, we estimated the prevalence of beak deformities in adults to be 16.9 ± 5.3%, the highest rate of gross deformities ever recorded in a wild bird population. Prevalence varied among sites and was...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: The Auk
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We studied breeding dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), yellow-rumped warblers (Dendroica coronata), and spruce-nesting birds from 1997 to 1998 among forests with different levels of spruce (Picea spp.) mortality following an outbreak of spruce beetles (Dendroctonus rufipennis) in Alaska, USA. We identified species using live and beetle-killed spruce for nest sites and monitored nests to determine how the outbreak influenced avian habitat selection and reproduction. We tested predictions that 1) nesting success of ground-nesting juncos would increase with spruce mortality due to proliferation of understory vegetation available to conceal nests from predators, 2) nesting success of canopy-nesting warblers would decrease...
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A large number of beak deformities of unknown etiology have recently been reported in Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and other resident avian species in Alaska. We investigated the potential association between diet and beak deformities. We analyzed carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotopes in whole blood of Black-capped Chickadees captured at three semiurban sites in south-central Alaska. For dietary analysis, we included natural foods (arthropods, seeds, and berries) and anthropogenic items commonly provided in bird feeders (sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and suet). Blood samples from individuals with beak deformities exhibited lower δ15N values and more variable δ13C values than birds with normal...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: The Auk
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Mountain ranges, deserts, ice fields and oceans generally act as barriers to the movement of land-dependent animals, often profoundly shaping migration routes. We used satellite telemetry to track the southward flights of bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica baueri), shorebirds whose breeding and non-breeding areas are separated by the vast central Pacific Ocean. Seven females with surgically implanted transmitters flew non-stop 8117-11680km (10153??1043 s.d.) directly across the Pacific Ocean; two males with external transmitters flew non-stop along the same corridor for 7008-7390km. Flight duration ranged from 6.0 to 9.4 days (7.8??1.3 s.d.) for birds with implants and 5.0 to 6.6 days for birds with externally...
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