The OWCN staff helped out on a capture of Western grebes (or WEGRs to the cool kids) off of Richmond last week.
Susan Wainwright-De La Cruz and John Takekawa of USGS were funded by the OWCN to collect baseline data on WEGRs so that spill responders have “normals” to compare debilitated birds to during spills. As part of this effort, several capture specialists from WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, as well as Joe Gaydos of the Wildlife Health Center’s SeaDoc Society, came down to learn how to best deploy and use floating “mist nets” for catching diving seabirds such as grebes.
For the OWCN, this not only helps move research forward, but also adds a capture method to our “toolbox” for spills and helps to train our response team in field techniques. Most importantly, we are also planning on conducting a post-release survival study in WEGRs towards the end of the year (as this species has been notoriously difficult to follow after release) to better understand the biology of the species as well as test the use of satellite PTTs such that, if and when we have a spill that impacts these birds, we might possibly be able to conduct a post-release study more effectively.