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All in a Day's Work for a Bird Tracker and Catawba Alumnus

July 26, 2010

Category: Alumni, Environmental Science


2005 Catawba Alumnus Connor Coleman, featured in the article below, majored in Environmental Science and is now pursuing a Master's of Environmental Management (MEM) Degree in Ecosystem Science and Conservation as well as a Master of Forestry (MF) Degree in Forest Resource Management at Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. Coleman was named National Co-President of SAFE in 2009.

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Connor ColemanBy Diane Tennant, (PilotOnline.com)

"Bump," Alex Wilke warned, as the skiff nudged into the marsh grass and abruptly stopped.

With binoculars, she scanned the low dune line along the Eastern Shore's Metompkin Island. "There's an oystercatcher chick right there," she said, pointing to a long-legged bird skulking along the edge of the grass. "There's another chick that I think we will go for later."

She looked some more. "Actually, we might go for them now."

Not big enough to fly, not small enough to die, the American oystercatcher chicks were the perfect size for banding, although they stood about 12 inches tall and could run like the dickens.

Wilke, the bird conservation specialist for The Nature Conservancy's Virginia Coast Reserve, stood on the bow in her running shoes - a pair of dark blue Crocs. Grad student Connor Coleman wore water sandals.

But as the stern drifted sideways and the chicks scampered out of the grass onto the open sand, Wilke changed her mind. It's hard to get a bird in the hand even when they don't have a head start, and these already had been spooked out of the tall spartina grass where they hunker down to hide from predators.

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