AFO Afield – June 2017 issue

The most recent issue of the Association of Field Ornithologist’s biannual newsletter, AFO Afield is now available for download. In this issue, we provide a summary of the NAOC VI meeting that was held in Washington D.C. in August 2016. In so doing, we present the recipients of the AFO Student Presentation Awards, the Best Student Publication Award, the Bergstrom Research Awards, and the Pamela L. and Alexander F. Skutch Fund Research Award. We also introduce the two newest elected members of the AFO’s Governing Council (Class of 2019), Rob Aldredge and Ian Ausprey. In preparation for our annual meeting which will occur from the 8th to the 11th of August, 2017 in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina as part of the Ornithological Congress of the Americas, we provide details about the congress program including information about the 7 internationally renowned ornithologists that we will be hosting as plenary speakers. We also include information about the conference location, potential field trips, and birds that may be seen in the surrounding area which includes the world famous Iguazú Falls! Following on from the August 2016 issue of AFO Afield, we provide the second installment of our article showcasing the research of former recipients of the Pamela L. and Alexander F. Skutch Fund Research Award. In this issue, we learn about the research of Harold Greeney, Noemi Esther Llanos, and Renata Biancalana. Finally, we provide details about AFO’s recent acquisition of Avinet, Inc., a supplier of specialized equipment for field biologists. To download the most recent copy of AFO Afield, please visit:

Membership Renewal Changes

OSNA Renewal Season Changes: As announced in an email from OSNA on October 11, OSNA’s membership database for the Association of Field Ornithologists, Raptor Research Foundation, Wilson Ornithological Society and American Ornithological Society (formerly AOU and COS), will move to a new cloud-based membership management system, MemberSuite. This new system will provide members with access to services that you have come to expect from OSNA, such as the ability to renew all your OSNA memberships with one visit to the site, as well as new services such as automatic membership renewals and registration for meetings. The Waterbird Society will no longer participate in the shared OSNA membership database. Members of the Waterbird Society will receive information explaining some of the changes they may expect this fall.

The 2017 Membership Renewal Season for AFO, AOS, RRF and WOS will begin in late November or early December 2016. Members will receive an email inviting them to go to the MemberSuite portal to renew. If your email address is not on record with OSNA or if you do not renew in early December, you will receive a printed copy of the OSNA renewal form in late December. As in the past, you will receive several reminder emails and printed renewal notices during the Renewal Season if you have not renewed. If you have questions, contact Bonnie Bowen, OSNA Executive Director,

Poster presentations at NAOC2016

From 17 to 20 August 2016, several of us participated in the sixth North American Ornithological Conference (, held in Washington DC. Three of the posters we presented on various aspects of Fork-tailed Flycatcher ecology are shown below. The first is a poster by Vanesa Bejarano on the relationship between the timing of feather molt and reproduction among different populations of flycatchers. Another poster presented by Maggie MacPherson shows the relationship between flycatcher migration and climate across South America. Finally, Alex Jahn presented a poster showing recent data suggesting that some flycatchers that breed in Brazil begin their flight feather molt in southwestern Brazil before migrating to northern South America. All three of these studies will soon be in review for publication in research journals.

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AFO Afield August 2016

The most recent issue of the Association of Field Ornithologist’s biannual newsletter, AFO Afield is now available for download. In preparation for our annual meeting which will occur from the 16th to the 20th August in Washington DC as part of the NAOC VI, we have included information about the AFO’s presence at the meeting and how you can interact with us. This includes details about Twitter-based competitions that we will run throughout the conference for a chance to win a stylish AFO baseball cap! We are also excited to include a contribution from former recipients of the Bergstrom Award about their research focusing on the ecology of Patagonia’s migratory birds which was funded through the award. In addition, we have included interviews with three former recipients of the Pamela L. and Alexander F. Skutch Research Award, Sandra Victoria Rojas Nossa, Ursula Valdez, and Gustavo Londoño. The interviews showcase the research funded through the award, the impact of the research, stories from the field, and provide updates about the recipients. Finally, we introduce the three newest elected members of the AFO’s Governing Council (Class of 2018), Jill Jankowski, Matthew Reudink, and Jennifer Smith. To download the most recent copy of AFO Afield, please visit:

What is the relationship between climate and flycatcher migration?

How climate affects the timing of bird migration is a key question in the study of migratory bird ecology. One of our colleagues, Maggie MacPherson, a PhD candidate at Tulane University, is modeling how Tyrannus flycatchers track rainfall vs. temperature across the Western Hemisphere. See her website for animated maps showing how Eastern Kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus), Tropical Kingbirds (T. melancholicus) and Fork-tailed Flycatchers (T. s. savana) track temperature vs. rainfall throughout the year.

Vichada, Colombia 2016

Over the last several weeks, migratory Fork-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus s. savana) have been migrating from their breeding grounds in southern and central South America to northern South America, where they will spend the austral winter. In search of these migrants, José Ignacio Giraldo and Jonathan Candil Méndez visited several ranches (Villa Lorena, El Caribe, and El Brillante) near the town of Santa Rosalia in Vichada Department, eastern Colombia, from 11 to 20 April, 2016. They saw flocks of dozens of Fork-tailed Flycatcher migrants passing through, apparently feeding on fruit, and were able to band a few.


Vichada Department, Colombia

José Ignacio and Jonathan were also able to catch a few of the resident subspecies of Fork-tailed Flycatchers (T. s. monachus), which are lighter-colored than the migratory subspecies. Very little is known of the ecology and breeding behavior of this resident subspecies. Although José and Jonathan searched for nests they did not locate any, even though this is supposedly the time of year when this subspecies breeds.

Tyrannus savana Spp. (2)

Fork-tailed Flycatcher of the subspecies monachus, in Vichada Department, Colombia

Notably, on the morning of 15 April they also saw a large flock of about 500 Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) in grassland habitat. This is an increasingly threatened species that breeds in North America and overwinters in South America (south to Argentina). Given that spring is now underway in North America, this flock of Bobolinks were likely migrating back to their North American breeding grounds.

We thank the owners of the ranches visited for access to their property and hope to return again soon.

Bobolinks Colombia Apr 2016

Flock of Bobolinks migrating through Vichada Department, eastern Colombia, April 2016

Flycatcher migration in Tucumán

Last week, one of our collaborators, Emanuel Pérez Bogado, a graduate student in Patricia Capllonch’s lab at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina, saw flocks migrating Fork-tailed Flycatchers in northern Argentina (Tucumán Province). One flock was of about 50 birds, including both adults and first-year individuals. These birds head northwards at this time of year, having spent the austral summer (October-January) breeding across much of central and northern Argentina. They primarily overwinter in the “llanos” (grasslands) of the Orinoco River Basin (e.g., Colombia and Venezuela), where they molt their flight feathers before returning to southern South America beginning in August.


Migrating Fork-tailed Flycatchers in Tucumán, Argentina, February 2016 (Photo: Emanuel Pérez Bogado).


Migrating Fork-tailed Flycatchers in Tucumán, Argentina, February 2016 (Photo: Emanuel Pérez Bogado).

Mato Grosso do Sul 2016

Light-level geolocator data from Fork-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus s. savana) breeding in central Brazil indicate that some flycatchers spend a month (late January to mid-February) in southwestern Brazil, before migrating to northern South America to overwinter (unpub. data). So, from 6-12 February, 2016, Andre Guaraldo and Alex Jahn searched for Fork-tailed Flycatchers in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul in southwestern Brazil, hoping to find a roost at which they could be captured. After four days on the road and about 1800 km traversed, a roost was spotted south of the town of Dourados, at Fazenda Ribalta. Much of the landscape is covered by fields of soybeans, but this ranch has several bamboo groves in which at least 100 flycatchers roost at this time of year. We managed to catch 4 individuals (two adults and two hatch-year flycatchers). One of the adults was molting the first primary feather on each wing (see figure), supporting the idea that at least some Fork-tailed Flycatchers stopover in this part of the continent to begin their molt before heading to the wintering grounds in the grasslands of the Orinoco Basin (Colombia and Venezuela), where they complete the molt.


Tall mist net set up next to a bamboo grove where migratory Fork-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus s. savana) roost in Feb 2016.


Soybean field in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil.


Wing of female migratory Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus s. savana) captured at Fazenda Ribalta, Mato Grosso do Sul (Feb. 2016). Note molting feather (First primary).