Professor Noah Perlut of UNE earns funding for project on conservation of songbird species. COURTESY PHOTO/ University of New England

Professor Noah Perlut of UNE earns funding for project on conservation of songbird species. COURTESY PHOTO/ University of New England

BIDDEFORD — University of New England Professor Noah Perlut, Ph.D., of the Department of Environmental Studies, is one of 31 scientists who will receive funding from a Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) grant, administered through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

More than $3.8 million in federal funds will be matched by more than $14 million in partner contributions to support migratory bird conservation projects in 19 countries across North, Central and South America.

Perlut’s project was one of three that were highlighted in a July 11 press release issued by the USFWS. Focused on the conservation of a songbird species known as the bobolink, he will seek to engage Vermont landowners and managers with information about individual bobolinks breeding on their property.

In doing so, he aims to help these landowners and managers adapt land management practices to rebalance farming and the needs of grassland birds. Partners will assess the annual life-cycle of individual bobolinks by collecting data both while on the breeding grounds and through tracking devices for the entire migration to and from southern South America. They will use a community-based approach — integrating volunteers and undergraduate students in collecting and disseminating these data.

Successful balance between bird conservation and agricultural production is only going to happen through partnership and sound science, said Perlut. “This grant enables UNE students and faculty to work with a volunteer Audubon chapter and hundreds of land owners and managers to find a balance, where we can keep both local agriculture and migratory birds on our landscape,” he said.

According to the USFWS, hundreds of species of neotropical migratory birds that migrate to and from the United States each year, including songbirds, shorebirds and birds of pretty, will benefit from this funding. Because the program works throughout the Western Hemisphere, it is able to support the full life-cycle needs of the birds who may spend summers in the United States but winter in Central or South America.

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