In South Carolina and across the hemisphere, Audubon is helping expand the Motus wildlife tracking network along important migratory corridors in an effort to increase understanding about vulnerable bird species and improve conservation strategies across their annual life cycles.
In October, Audubon marked an important milestone in this endeavor when it installed its 15th Motus tower in South Carolina at Clemson University's Experimental Forest. Audubon South Carolina (ASC) also added two other towers to its network in 2023, one at Huntington Beach State Park and Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center on the North coast of SC. These sites were selected based on their location in migratory pathways, proximity to on the ground tagging work, and site specific criteria that make them great Motus tower site hosts. The Yawkey Foundation funded the two towers on the North Coast and Duke Energy Funded the Clemson Univeristy tower along with the Roper Mountain Science Center tower in Greenville SC.
Additionally, ASC partnered with Nemours Wildlife Foundation to install a tower at Pineywoods Elementary School in Chapin SC. This school's mascot is the Purple Martin, which is perfect as it sits near a designated Important Bird Area, Bomb Island, which is a famous pre-migratory roost on Lake Murray where hundreds of thousands of Purple Martins congregate in late-summer. Nemours Wildlife Foundation helped install the tower, along with multiple other towers in the past year, thanks in part to funding from Dominion Energy.
In total, South Carolina has 24 Motus towers located strategically throughout the state.
ASC will use the data from these towers to inform conservation strategies and educate lawmakers and residents about the status and needs of our migratory birds. It will also contribute to National Audubon's Migratory Bird Initiative, which aims to secure the future of migratory birds in the Western Hemisphere by consolidating and elevating the best-available migration science; identifying and reducing threats to migratory birds throughout their annual lifecycles; strengthening connections and cooperation among key stakeholders; and informing conservation policy at the local, state and federal levels. You can explore existing data using the Initiative’s interactive Bird Migration Explorer.
Check out this blog post to learn more about how Motus technology works and the ASC tower network. Or, to support our ongoing research efforts, click here to make a donation.