Unlocking Migration's Secrets
For centuries the study of bird migration has been riddled with mystery and unanswered questions: Where do birds go in winter? How far do they fly? Can they navigate a hurricane? Scientists are tapping new technologies to find the answers, and transforming everything we know--or think we know--about birds.
But for the time being, at least--and true to her name--Hope was safe from all but the mostly natural dangers to which shorebirds have always been subject. And true to her nature, which depends on a few extraordinarily small, localized places in her hemispheric wanderings, Hope would defend a tiny winter territory on St. Croix. Every time she has been observed at Great Pond, it has been within 10 yards of the same spot--a small section of a mangrove-rimmed mudflat rich in fiddler crabs, which she defends against other whimbrels. For the next seven months this would be her universe while she rebuilt her reserves of fat and strength for the arduous return trip that awaits her.
About the time you read these words, Hope will be winging northwest again, retracing the thousands of miles that will bring her back to Hope Creek on the Virginia tidelands, there to gorge on still more crabs, then across the Canadian Shield to the flower-specked tundra on the Mackenzie Delta--spanning the continent on a journey whose complexities, triumphs, and dangers, like those facing all migrants, grow ever more astonishing and awe-inspiring as we decipher them.