We all love drinking for a good cause but after the beer has been drunk, t-shirts bought and photos uploaded to social media, do we ever realize our impact? I was sent a thank you letter recently that I want to share with you the patrons and possible donors. The George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center does a lot to preserve our native species, probably more than we know. So maybe relax with your favorite beer and catch up on how they are improving our lands and wildlife for years to come.
Research & Conservation
Endangered species recovery
We continue construction and testing the design of our captive breeding facility for one of the most endangered birds in North America, the Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken. The first phase included construction of I) a chick-raising building and an adjoining I 00x300ft netted enclosure in native prairie, 2) a headquarters including offices, laboratory, incubation, hatching, and imprinting sectors, 3) a building to house the most valuable breeders and help us to optimize the genetic makeup of offspring. We recently added a hen house, where domestic chickens are preparing to help incubate prairie-chicken eggs -the same method that we successfully used with Bald Eagle eggs thirty years ago.
Greater Prairie-Chickens are presently helping us try out different designs and methods in our effort to increase production and raise birds that can thrive in the wild. We are adding more chick-raising buildings, prairie-fields, and breeder barns. We are also working on different release techniques when returning birds to their native ranges. This project continues to be a partnership among many private and public agencies as we collectively work to save a grouse from extinction.
The Sutton Center will now apply our conservation skills to another imperiled bird, the Masked Bobwhite quail, a critically-endangered cousin of the Northern Bobwhite-the latter is one of the most popular North American upland game birds. The Masked Bobwhite is from the Sonora Desert, and a population has been kept in captivity in Arizona for decades. Keeping all birds in one location is perilous in case of disease outbreak or other potential catastrophes, so we have been asked to share the responsibility of keeping and breeding these wonderful creatures. We are also involved in the reintroduction efforts.
The Sutton Center will have an intensive field season researching habitat requirements of the White-tailed Ptarmigan. This cold-adapted alpine bird exists at the same latitude as Bartlesville, Oklahoma, but at much higher elevation in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. Survival on these “sky island” mountaintops becomes difficult if temperatures increase.
Outreach & Education
Sutton Award for Student Conservation Art
The Sutton Award continues to provide thousands of dollars annually in scholarships to Oklahoma high school students and associated awards to their teachers. Awardees are able to display their work as part of the Nature Works Art Show and Sale, with Nature Works being a major sponsor of the Sutton Award. Contributions to help fund these scholarships are always much appreciated. Testimonials from past winners indicate that this program can serve as a watershed moment that affirms these developing artists’ skills and gives them a confidence boost for pursuing art-related careers.
Bald Eagle Monitoring: From Nest to Nesting
Citizen-scientist volunteers of the Bald Eagle Survey Team (BEST) helped with checking over 150 nests in the spring of 2016! One of these nests can be viewed on our website, where the latest young was seen hatching February 9, 2017. We also continue tracking Oklahoma-hatched eagles using satellite transmitters as they wander around North America as non-breeding juveniles. The first female that we put a transmitter on in 20 I 0 returned to nest and produced four young these last two years.
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