As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The allure of hidden birds

Scientists and bird lovers who study the black swift, a small and mysterious migratory bird that nests behind waterfalls, are known to be obsessive. 

Rifle-based biologist Kim Potter, a wildlife technician in the Rifle office of the White River National Forest, is no exception. Potter was the first to document the presence of swifts at Rifle Falls, and has tagged scores of them at Fulton Resurgence Cave in the Flat Top Mountains, north of Rifle. In 2009, she was part of a three-person team that unraveled the longtime mystery of swifts' winter migration patterns.

The team's discovery — that swifts winter 4,000 miles away in the canyons of northwestern Brazil — is highlighted in the current issues of both Audubon and Smithsonian magazines.

Potter said the mystery and uniqueness of black swifts have kept her engaged since she first began to study them in 1996, in her first year as a seasonal technician for the White River National Forest.

“What could be more adventurous and romantic than birds that nest at waterfalls?” she said, laughing. “I can say that I've banded more Black Swifts than anyone in the whole world, and in this day and age, with so many things that are well understood, it's nice to be working on something we know so little about.”

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