Sep 20 2013

Researchers Are Concerned About the Red Knot’s Population

After the Red Knot birds finally made the last of their preparations for their long migration of the winter, which consists of nearly ten-thousand miles, they all began to flap their wings diligently over the beach of Cape Cod. Only minutes into the beginning of their journey, they were suddenly halted by something they would have never expected.

Cannons filled with nets dominated their air way, trapping hundreds from the flock. The cannons were initiated by researchers. It may seem cruel, but the researchers had the best of intentions. The Red Knot bird has been steadily losing its population for the past few years, and these researchers have conducted this study in attempts to figure out the reasoning behind this.


Once the researchers captured the birds, they weighed and measured them, while collecting feather samples from them. They also attached geolocators to the birds’ feet before releasing them to continue on with their journey.

red knot in hand

When migrating, birds will fly for days and travel thousands of miles before even taking a break. They make short stops to rest and feed. There are key locations along the way to their destination that were once plentiful with food for them. Since the food supply in these areas is dwindling, 70% of all shore birds’ populations are suffering.

red knot flock

This species of bird has been on the New Jersey Endangered Species list for some time now. The Red Knot bird population of this bird is estimated to have decreased by 75% since the 1980s in some areas. Researcher have already determined that a contributor to the population drop is from a drastic decrease in the population of the horseshoe crab in Delaware Bay. This is key because this bay is a crucial refueling stop for the birds in the midst of their migration.

Since researchers have obtained the data for their investigation, they can now begin their research. We hope the status of the Red Knot bird population begins to improve before it is too late.