Notes from the Field

Slowed Progress in 2020

 Happy New Year from Project Principalis! As is surely true for many of you, 2020 was a difficult year for Project Principalis, but we look forward to a much better 2021.

In early 2020, our team was committed to an intense and productive field season with several searchers in the woods full-time, and several more making significant contributions. We hiked many miles over hundreds of hours and made thousands of hours of recordings. But with the onset of the COVID pandemic, many team members returned home for the duration. Thankfully, team members who live close to the search area have continued to visit on a more limited basis and continue to maintain remote recording devices.

Weather was a problem, and the search area suffered significant storm damage starting last winter and more dramatically during the summer and fall. We are still in the process of assessing the extent of the damage, but one area of particular interest to us was devastated. The landscape is altered, and getting around is considerably more difficult and dangerous. Some of the images are heartbreaking.

We don’t know at this time what impact the storms have had on the birds that we are trying to document, or what the long-term impacts will be on the ecosystem. Although the loss of trees is painful to see, storm damage is part of the ecology of these forests and these historic changes present numerous opportunities for research into the ecology of bottomland forests and their birds.

As our local crew continues to lead field efforts in 2021, we are hopeful that many more of us will be able to resume a more sustained effort before the end of this field season. We are still examining, evaluating, and contemplating data obtained over the last two seasons. We think we have some important new insights into why this species has been so hard to document, but it will be some time before we will be ready to address the results in any detail.

In the coming months, look for new posts synthesizing and refining material from the old Project Coyote site and adding new insights.

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