Grays Harbor is a large bay on the southern coast of Washington State used by Red Knots and many other species of shorebirds for roosting and foraging during migration.
In recognition of its importance as a critical stopover site for over 500,000 shorebirds every year, Grays Harbor was designated a Site of Hemispheric Importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) in 1995.
Red Knots (roselaari) use the site’s extensive silt and silt-sand tidal flats during spring (northbound) migration. However, aspects of the species’ migratory connectivity are not well understood, particularly with respect to breeding areas. To address the dearth of breeding-range information, the CEC supported an undertaking to attach satellite transmitters to Red Knots in Grays Harbor, to track their migration north from coastal Washington. In addition, CEC supported an exchange enabling three representatives from other important shorebird sites along the North American Pacific Flyway to experience Red Knot tagging.
Two participants from Baja California, Mexico and one participant from Alaska, United States, helped to capture Red Knots and deploy 23 satellite transmitters. Each team member had specific responsibilities ranging from searching other areas for movements of Red Knots to setting up the holding pens. After capture, the three CEC-supported participants were responsible for tasks such as recording bird measurements, attaching leg flags, and releasing birds outfitted with transmitters. In the coming months, it is likely that new aspects of Red Knot migration will emerge from the tracking data.
All CEC-supported participants enhanced their experience and skills by being part of the banding team and observing and studying Red Knots. By building relationships and sharing their experiences with local communities back at home, their participation in the site exchange also served to strengthen the budding North American Pacific Flyway Network.