Tagged Bustards Die on Migratory Pathway
We are sad to report that tagged bustards Sachokchin and Mendee died on the migratory pathway. Mendee, whom we tagged in 2011, died in Inner Mongolia in China. Sachokchin, whom we tagged in 2010, died in Omnogovi Aimag of Southern Mongolia. We investigate the site of last transmission of all of our tagged bustards in order to study causes of adult mortality in Asian Great Bustards. All deaths of tagged bustards we have recorded have occurred on migratory stopovers or the wintering grounds.
Bustards on the move
Our tagged female bustards Sachokchin and Mendee have begun their journey south as the harsh Mongolian winter begins. Snow first fell in September!
Sachokchin incubating a second clutch
Through satellite telemetry
, we have observed that after just a week's rest, Sachokchin laid a second clutch of eggs! She has now incubated them to term. Bustard chicks are precocial - they are able to walk alongside their mother (albeit slowly and with a bit of stumbling, as in this video
from Britain!) shortly after hatching. We hope that Sachokchin's chicks will soon be accompanying her to forage on grasshoppers and beetles (agricultural pests!) in the wheat field in which they were hatched.
Sachokchin and Mendee lose their clutches
Sachokchin and Mendee, two of the female great bustards we're monitoring with satellite transmitter
backpacks, are trying their best to raise a family at their breeding grounds in northern Mongolia. Satellite transmissions reveal that both birds incubated nests for about two weeks in early June - only to abandon them. This often happens when the nest is predated (by crows or foxes), or eggs are crushed by livestock or farm machinery.
Sachokchin and Mendee return to breeding grounds
Sachokchin, a Great Bustard tagged
by our team in 2010, and Mendee, tagged in 2011, have successfully completed round-trip migrations to return to their breeding grounds in northern Mongolia! This is cause for celebration, as our research has found particularly high mortality for Asian Great Bustards during migration, when they face threats as diverse as hunting, collisions with power lines, and poisoning.
Nergui, Sachokchin, and Mendee Safely home!
We've been monitoring the movements of our tagged bustards with baited breath as they've migrated 2000 km (1200 miles) homeward from their wintering grounds in China. As we've posted before
, we are finding that mortality on the migratory route - due in large part to hunting - is a problem for these populations of Great Bustard. We are happy to report that this spring our tagged birds have all arrived safely home to northern Mongolia, where we wish them success in nesting and raising chicks this summer!
Contribute to our RocketHub Campaign to Support Continued Tracking of These Bustards!
Stay tuned for the imminent launch of our team's RocketHub crowdsourcing campaign. Your contributions will help us to continue to receive transmissions from these tagged birds by helping with the expense of satellite data transmission fees.
has arrived at her wintering site in Shaanxi Province of China, after a journey lasting less than a week! Through our satellite tracking program
, we have found that this journey is usually accomplished over a two-month timeframe, with multiple stopovers. Mendee, in the meantime, is on stopover at the Bayanur Oasis in Inner Mongolia, China.
Fall Migration Begins
is the first of the bustards we monitor
to make a southward movement this fall - she's moved about 100 km southeast from her main breeding valley.
Public outrage over poaching of migratory birds
Last April, we reported our finding that one of our tracked bustards, Songuul', had been poisoned as part of the trade in illegal wild meats in China. We are happy to learn that the issue of poaching of migratory birds in China, which affects many species, is receiving attention
, and has even been the subject of a documentary
What our Bustards Did This Summer
Each of our tagged
female bustards spent the summer in her own way. Mendee
spent her summer months extensively exploring mountainous areas and clearings adjacent to her main breeding valley. Sachokchin incubated a clutch of eggs, but appears to have lost her chicks shortly after hatching. And after losing a clutch of eggs, Nergui
went to the mountains for a period as well. Low rates of reproduction
due to loss of eggs and chicks to predators (crows, foxes and wolves) and crushing by livestock and agricultural machinery is a major cause for concern across the Great Bustard's range.
Nergui, Mendee and Sachokchin have made it to the Bayanur oasis in Inner Mongolia - half-way from their wintering site in Chinato their breeding grounds in northern Mongolia
Bosoo Bustard Poached near Mining Site
, one of the bustards whome we monitor via satellite telemetry, died on her migration south towards her wintering grounds. An investigation revealed that she had been poached near a mining site
in south Gobi desert. Her transmitter was discarded not far from a road.
Nergui reaches her wintering grounds
, a female bustard we have been tracking
since 2007, is the first of our tagged bustards to reach her wintering grounds in Central China this year. Temperatures at her wintering ground are currently 17 to 41°F (-6 to 5°C).
Meanwhile, temperatures at her breeding grounds are -6 to 21°F (-21 to -6°C).
Two new bustards join our team
We've custom-fit backpack transmitters for two new female bustards: Bosoo and Mendee. We're looking forward to observing them on their fall migration.
Toson bustard Predated
En route to our field site we have investigated the death of one of the bustards we have been tracking
. Feathers and bones were scattered about the site of death at a migratory stopover. Interviews with local families report an increased number of foxes following the previous winter's dzud (winter weather disaster). Dzud cause mass casualties of livestock, upon which predators then feed.
Songuul' - a Victim of the Wild Meat trade
Songuul', a bustard we have tracked for three years, died on her wintering grounds. An investigation
located her transmitter, which had been discarded alongside a bowl and empty chemical vials. Local people spoke of "professionals" who visit the area to
poison wild birds and sell the meat to "wild meats" restaurants.