York University researcher Kevin Fraser has been awarded a Liber Ero Fellowship to support his research on migratory songbird decline – making him a member of the first cohort of honourees to receive the prestigious new Canadian award modelled after the longstanding Smith Fellow program in the United States.
Fraser’s award will help sustain his efforts tracking the migration and declines of songbird populations, focusing specifically on the purple martin. Using light-level geolocators, Fraser and his team will track the migration of individual martins from breeding sites across Canada, all the way to their overwintering sites in Brazil, and back. By tracking birds year-round, they will be able to identify range-wide factors contributing to population declines, providing important data for the conservation and management of purple martins and other declining songbirds.
“The Liber Ero fellowship provides an amazing opportunity to determine the causes of population declines in Canadian migratory birds, and importantly, apply our research findings directly to save these birds by partnering with conservation groups,” says Fraser.
The Liber Ero Fellowship program aims to support early-career conservation scientists doing work in Canada and is supported by the Liber Ero Foundation – a philanthropic organization dedicated to the conservation of Canada’s natural resources. The program awarded four fellowships this year to support its recipients’ salaries and research funding for two years.
Above: A photo gallery of purple martin migration images gathered during Fraser’s research