Researchers Study Bird Blood Values at The Preserve

Researchers Study Bird Blood Values at The Preserve

3/20/2015 8:34:00 PM

Dr. Sheila Scoville and Peter Doherty are partners in life and in science. Dr. Scoville is an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Anatomy at Eastern Virginia Medical School and Mr. Doherty is a Yale trained environmental lawyer who has spent years as a field biologist as a bird bander and trainer. Together they are investigating blood values in North American passerines (warblers, vireos, and thrushes etc) and two species of water birds. Their goal is to characterize “normal” blood in these birds to provide a baseline for comparison in the event of change such as the introduction of contaminants in the environment or climate change.

The couple initially began their work across the Northeast United States in 2014 and this year have expanded their efforts to include the Bahamas since many species are shared between the two countries. During the first few months of the year, Dr. Scoville and Mr. Doherty traveled to New Providence, several islands in the Exuma chain, and Eleuthera to sample bird populations. Sampling in Eleuthera occurred at The Preserve over a four day period in March. Staff and visitors were able to observe the sampling process and even assist in releasing birds after they were measured. Browse the photos below for more details about the research process.  

Once the project is complete, Dr. Scoville and Mr. Doherty will provide The Bahamas National Trust with a report based on their research and have already agreed to return to The Preserve to present their findings in a public lecture. 

Sampling involved the following steps:

1) Birds were caught in very thin vertical mist nets and removed carefully. The nets are specifically designed not to cause harm to the birds. 


2) Each bird was then identified and the following standard ornithological information was recorded:
- age
- weight
- wing and tail measurements
- gender when possible
- health observations 


3) A blood sample of volume less than 1% of body weight was collected for immediate analysis. 


4) All birds were marked to avoid repeat sampling and released. 


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