Postcards from the field: Maya Wilson studies swallows in the Bahamas

July 12, 2015
Postcard from Maya Wilson

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Maya Wilson

“I am just finishing up my four-month field season in The Bahamas! Overall, it has been a success!

I am here studying the Bahama Swallow, a poorly known and endangered bird species that only breeds on three islands in the northern Bahamas. I was here last summer for two months, but this is my first full season as a PhD student. I have spent most of the time on Abaco Island with my field assistants Nicole and Tivonia (see photo above). I also took a few trips to Andros Island, which is the largest island in The Bahamas but also one of the least developed. I haven’t made it to Grand Bahama yet, but maybe next year!

We have been collecting data to answer several questions, which will all be part of my dissertation. One of our main goals was to capture as many swallows as we could, and we just reached #100! We have also been locating and monitoring active nests, including “peeping” nests in pine snags with a specialized camera on a telescoping pole. We were able to follow several pairs as they built their nests, laid eggs, and raised their nestlings. We have also been surveying breeding habitats to assess the availability of nesting cavities, which are necessary for the Bahama swallow and other cavity-nesting species on the islands.

Although the heat and insects can get to us sometimes, we have been having a blast, surrounded by such natural beauty! I’ll be home in Blacksburg soon!

Warm regards,

Maya”

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