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ODU Researchers to Discuss Songbird Migration Study on ‘With Good Reason’

ewalters-eric-waltersEric Walters

Two Old Dominion University researchers who are experimenting with radar as a means of tracking the migration patterns of songbirds will be featured on the public radio show "With Good Reason" on Thursday, Dec. 19.

Eric Walters, assistant professor of biology, and graduate student Andrew Arnold will discuss their research project with NASA and environmental groups, which used experimental technology to track songbird migrations this fall. The collaborative study covered Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

"With Good Reason" airs at 1 p.m. Thursday on WHRV-FM, 89.5, and on public radio stations across Virginia and around the United States. The hourlong show, produced by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, spotlights the achievements of Virginia public universities in scholarly research and innovation.

Broadcast times are posted at: http://www.withgoodreasonradio.org/when-to-listen/.

The songbird tracking endeavor, which will extend into mid-2015, is a joint project between ODU, the University of Delaware, The Nature Conservancy, NASA, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For the current project, the National Weather Service used an assortment of radar units, and NASA is providing base data. NASA's NPOL radar, which is used primarily to track and measure weather phenomena, is sensitive enough to pick out individual raindrops. Since songbirds typically do not migrate in the rain, the radar can be used to track birds on clear nights.

Walters' research team at ODU was responsible for ground surveys of 12 sites in southeastern Virginia, 12 on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and 12 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Other researchers featured on this episode of "With Good Reason" include Elizabeth Johnson of James Madison University, who examines rocks from the depths of extinct volcanoes to unearth what really caused these baffling eruptions; and Russell Burke of Christopher Newport University, who is using oysters as part of what he calls "living reefs" as a buffer against encroaching waters.

Audio files of the full program and its companion news feature will be posted the week of the show to the "With Good Reason" website, at http://withgoodreasonradio.org/2013/12/digging-deep-for-eruptive-evidence/.

"With Good Reason" has twice won the Gabriel Award for Best Documentary/Public Affairs Program. It also is the recipient of top honors from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters and won a second-place award in the Public Radio News Directors competition.

ODU listeners are encouraged to join the show's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/With-Good-Reason-radio/203141233005, and subscribe to the "With Good Reason" podcast, at: www.tinyurl.com/wgrpodcast.