“One of nature’s miracles,” he says, holding out his hand. “This field work is key to understanding organisms where they live and is important for conservation,” he said. Wink emailed him back right away and later suggested that Ringelman study feather fighting. He sits down in the ankle-high grass, surrounded by summer thistle. Many students who would have contacted me might be well advised to get in touch with other faculty members here at Cornell. He began recruiting other swallow enthusiasts. Wink said they love the project, but they don’t understand it and can’t afford it. As soon as all of the current Golondrinas sites reach 100 or more nest boxes, with a bug sucker at half of them, Wink said he will feel as though he has arrived. More From Living BirdLiving Bird Summer 2008—Table of ContentsLiving Bird Magazine—Latest IssueLiving Bird Magazine Archives. Professors with a stable crew of eager students create a solid base. The expedition was funded in part by Ivy Expedition Fund and led by Prof. David Winkler, in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. “Once adult tree swallows choose a nest site, they will generally return to that location to breed for the rest of their lives. He tried to induce stress by taking all of the feathers out of some of his swallows’ nest boxes. So far, she can only see results for the first two species, but they do show variation. After more than 30 years on the faculty at Cornell, I have decided to retire the end of this calendar year to pursue full-time my interests in the development of radio tracking and environmental devices applied to birds and other small animals. With more than 400 nest boxes, 60 percent of which are occupied, he has created a home for Tree Swallows beside some experimental ponds owned by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. A tall white tube held up with wires, it collects bugs by sucking air in the top at about 45 miles per hour and then shooting it out the bottom after the bugs land in an ethanol bath. “When you know it, you care for it,” Wink said. Another cold weekend in June brought more trouble. “I thought it would be interesting to look at the whole genus.”. Better fliers, she thought, might be able to get more insects and more nutrition, allowing them to begin laying eggs earlier in the season than poorer fliers. An Ithaca-area tree swallow perches on a metal post. According to Vitousek, tree swallows make especially good research subjects. A tree swallow eats a dragonfly outside of its nest. By the following spring, he had 100 more nest boxes. Despite individual and group projects, everyone takes breaks to band more birds. The extra bandings and boxes will boost Wink’s sample size and aquatic expertise for other Golondrinas sites. With so many projects behind him and a lifetime of ideas in front of him, Wink is forever attached to Tree Swallows. But when the money dried up, progress slowed. Many had chicks and many of them died. And Wink hopes the comparative studies born from a widespread collaboration will shed light on life-history characteristics, and, possibly, the avian response to climate change. So Bowlin and Wink built a flight tunnel with a series of wooden panels at the Ithaca site. His crop is the Tachycinetagenus of swallows. In some species, including tree swallows, the levels of these hormones can predict reproductive success in certain contexts. “They are tough birds, and they don’t hold a grudge. “We are all gardeners.”. “We capture individuals up to three times a year,” Uehling said, “and by the final capture, they are usually pretty wary of us.”. After unzipping his stuffed, forest-green pack, Wink takes out the appropriate instruments—a digital ruler, pair of pliers, and scale. Wink experiences the challenges firsthand. In addition to travel and this paper, Wink was renewing a grant and overseeing field-site work while his right-hand man spent time with his newborn baby. But his business is a pleasure. Windows cover one long side and bookshelves line the other. How do differences in stress coping strategy influence health and fitness?”. And DNA fingerprinting shows that mating outside the partnership does occur at high rates. Jim Catalano is a freelance writer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “But we don’t know a ton about flight.”. “We’re just now starting to harvest the first fruits.”, Available for everyone, Cornell has been a wonderful place for me to grow as a scientist and educator, and it is home to an amazing community of biologists at all levels. Of the 356 males and 1,459 females captured in more than one breeding year, only 4 and 14 percent respectively dispersed to new breeding sites. Birds that laid eggs earlier accelerated faster when they were tested on the same calendar date. “I like to study huge populations,” he said. Wink knows that to keep the project living on after him, he will need to prove to people at other sites that the project is worthwhile and belongs to them. She is investigating four species at four locations: Tree Swallows in Ithaca, Mangrove Swallows in Belize, Violet-Green Swallows in Oregon and California, and White-rumped Swallows in Argentina.

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