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NASA Satellites Help Feed Migrating Birds

May 17, 2016 06:09 AM EDT

Bird migration is a natural process which occurs every season as dictated by the instinct of the birds. But due to the changes in the environment, sometimes, some of them cannot survive the long haul migration process and die in starvation. This is why NASA has made use of their satellites to help feed the birds during the migrating season.

By using the NASA/USGS satellite, NASA and their partners started creating 'pop-up' wetlands for shorebirds.

With the help of the satellite database, NASA can predict where ponds are located throughout the year. With this technology, they can dictate farmers if they needed to flood unused rice fields so that it can provide rest and food for migrating shorebirds along the Pacific every spring.

NASA can match the water availability and the number of birds arriving. The data makes it possible for farmers to identify the exact spot or wetlands the birds are expected to fly by and when the migration is likely to take place.

According to Goddard Media Studio, their program called Bird Returns in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, has produced over 20,000 acres of temporary wetlands in California for the last two years and probably managed to save hundreds of migratory birds in the process.

"The challenge is how do you help wildlife that move around and create habitat in places that may only be important for a few weeks or a few months out of the year?" said Mark Reynolds, lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy California Migratory Bird Program.

In 2015, the Bird Returns program was launched. But NASA only provides the data and information, for the program to be successful, farmers have to be deployed. They are responsible for flooding the wetlands or unused rice fields for the birds to rest and feed on.

"It's been a pretty astonishing success...Farmers participated, and we were able to put habitat out there at a fraction of the cost to purchase that land or put an easement on it" Reynolds added.

With this technology, conservation groups can further prepare for the migrating season and with the help of NASA's satellites they will be able to provide temporary resting place and food for migrating birds.


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