Sunday, May 6, 2012

What Does A Field Studies Coordinator Do?

In the past month or so I have been asked the same question numerous times. “So what exactly is your job?”  So, for all of you who have wondered just what a “field studies coordinator” does—here is a short description.
 One of the 330 nest boxes in the St. Louis/Franklin County which we monitor
My workweek is similar in timing to most Monday through Friday workweeks, but that’s where the majority of the similarities end. I am in charge of around 330 nest boxes, or birdhouses, around the St. Louis/Franklin county area. With the support of Ameren Missouri we have developed a study to find the most advantageous way to manage flora (plant life) around the electrical lines while keeping our feathered friends happy.

The three different ways that Ameren manages flora in the power line cuts are by spraying, mowing, and a combination of the two. What we have done is place boxes in the mow, spray, and mow/spray areas. What we are looking for are the success rates of the nests and number of active nests in each of the three areas. With this process being repeated over a number of nesting seasons we should be able to notice a trend. The trend that we are looking for is the most productive nest box area. This in theory will point us towards the best flora management practice.

As noted earlier there are 330 nest boxes that I oversee, and the boxes are located at the base of the electric line stanchions. For those who don’t know what a stanchion is--think of the Eiffel tower scaled down and that’s what a stanchion looks like, with current carrying wires strung between each Eiffel Tower!  Every stanchion has four legs, and on each leg there is a nest box.

My weekly duties are to visit each nest box once a week and record weather or not there is a nest and if there are offspring. If so, I record the nesting material, species, and the number of offspring.  At the correct age I will place a band around the leg of each individual youngster, and the banding information will be sent to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for their banding records.

So—the next time someone mentions a “field studies coordinator” in casual conversation you can say, “Of course, I know what that is!”

Submitted by Adam Triska, World Bird Sanctuary Field Studies Coordinator

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