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Red Knot Resighting

Partners within the Georgia Shorebird Alliance work with GA DNR and SC DNR to band Red Knots and follow their movents as they migrate to and from their arctic nesting grounds. 

The rufa subspecies of the Red Knot (Calidris canutus) has declined significantly in the past 35 years, leading to federal listing (US Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Register Vol. 79 No. 238, 2014a) under the Endangered Species Act in the United States (16 U.S.C. 1531 et. seq) and Canada (COSEWIC 2007, SARA 2007). 

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Center for Conservation Biology will initiate a Red Knot tagging and resighting program along the Atlantic Coast of Georgia during the spring of 2019 to be paired with the ongoing programs within Delaware Bay and elsewhere along the flyway. This project will provide critical data that will be used to analyze the ongoing questions regarding Red Knot habitat choice decision making in the south Atlantic Coast in spring. A large percentage (3-6%) of Red Knots have been previously captured and tagged with unique 2 to 3 digits alpha-numeric bands. This marked population allows for mark-resight studies of migratory populations of Red Knots with no capturing involved. A total of 27,356 Red Knots were detected during daily surveys in spring 2019 along the Georgia and South Carolina Coasts; of those, 4,917 were scanned for flags, and 315 individually banded Red Knots were resighted a total of 523 times from within the spring migrant population. A total of 71 marked to unmarked ratios were recorded during the field season, with an average of 3.6% of Red Knots individually marked over the course of the spring. The rough estimate for the total number of knots cycling through during the spring season is estimated superpopulation size for the spring 2019 season is 8,750 (3.6% of birds tagged and 315 individuals recorded). The Georgia Coast is a major stopover area annually for rufa Red Knots in spring migration and in certain years in fall migration. The superpopulation utilizing the coast in fall migration can exceed 23,000 birds (Lyons et al. 2017) and the rough estimate of spring migration superpopulation from this study is approximately 8,750 birds. The total estimated population of rufa Red Knots is 42,000 birds (Andres et al. 2012), suggesting that a high percentage of rufa knots are using the Georgia Coast in spring and in some years fall migration. 


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