Speaker Series: The Migration of Shorebirds with Dr. Cin-Ty Lee

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Twice a year, for millions of years, a global mass movement takes place: birds take flight and journey between their breeding and wintering grounds. In this talk, we explore bird migration through the lens of shorebirds, which have some of the longest and most treacherous migration paths of the avian world. What drives birds to migrate when the costs and risks are so high? What controls their migratory paths? How do they navigate? What controls their schedules? Do they ever get lost? Shorebirds spend much of their lives on the move, and in this talk, we will follow the annual journey of these shorebirds, listening to their nocturnal flight calls as they head down to the pampas of South America. We will also talk about how changes in past climate may have influenced the distribution and migration of shorebirds, and how future changes in climate or land-use may affect shorebird populations.

Cin-Ty Lee is a professor of geology in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice University. In addition to courses on geology, geochemistry, and mineral resources, he has been teaching field ornithology at Rice for 15 years. His primary research is focused on the origin and evolution of the Earth’s crust, the dynamics of volcanoes, and the transport of strategic metals across the Earth. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and the Geochemical Society and was recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. His ornithological interests have childhood roots. He has written numerous articles on challenging bird identifications, including dowitchers, pewees, immature orioles, loons and pipits and he is currently working on a field guide to Empidonax flycatchers. He has recently embarked on recording nocturnal flight calls to track the dark migration over Houston.

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