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Irving Nature Park participates in Canada’s Largest Bird Migration Study

The Irving Nature Park in Saint John, New Brunswick is part of the largest study ever undertaken on bird migration in Canada.

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In partnership with Bird Studies Canada and Acadia University, the Irving Nature Park has become an ideal location for a telemetry array - a tracking system that helps detect individually tagged birds in flight. 

The Motus Wildlife Tracking System allows researchers to track small birds using very high radio frequency transmissions.  Researchers tag small birds with tiny transmitters that weigh less than 0.3 grams.  The transmitter emits a short pulse, broadcasting individual signals. Each Motus tracking station can detect and record radio-tags at distances of up to 15 km. 

The staff at Irving Nature Park have done an excellent job monitoring the species that enter the area, however, their success is often limited by things such as weather and time of day.  Motus receiving stations allow for greater monitoring success. The receiving station at Irving Nature Park has detected four different species thus far. The species detected at the park were tagged at various locations, including Nova Scotia, Maine, Quebec, and Massachusetts. More data analysis of the 2015 migration is expected later this year.

JDI Naturalist Kelly Honeyman says the Irving Nature Park is a perfect spot for the Motus array.

“The park is a traditional staging site for migratory and marine birds that travel between the Arctic and South America and is also a breeding ground for many waterfowl of the Atlantic coastline,” said Honeyman. “Data  from the Motus project will help researchers better understand what is happening from breeding grounds to wintering grounds and the migratory path in between.”

With over 250 stations in total, Motus receiving stations have been established throughout southern Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes, and as far north as Southampton Island, Nunavut. In 2014, researchers and organizations radio-tagged over 1800 birds and bats of more than 30 different species. 

"Many of the ground-breaking discoveries made by Motus would not be possible without the collaboration of numerous landowners that host stations on their property,” said Stu Mackenzie, Motus Wildlife Tracking System Manager.   “With the cooperation of J.D. Irving, Limited and the Irving Nature Park, Motus has established a critical station along the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy and the mouth of the Saint John River.  This site has been crucial to our investigations about how migratory birds specifically navigate around the Bay of Fundy and more generally throughout northeastern North America.” 

About the Irving Nature Park

The Irving Nature Park is a 600 acre (243 hectare) site created by J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) to help protect an environmentally significant area. 

Just minutes from uptown Saint John, this special part of the Fundy coastline is a place where people can experience the various ecosystems of the Southern New Brunswick coastline. 

Park visitors can enjoy the rugged beauty, boardwalks, and lookout points right in their backyard. Special events such as meteor showers, geological history, moonlight snowshoeing, and story sessions are all free of charge. 

The area also nurtures one of the province's richest marine ecosystems. It is a traditional staging site for migratory and marine birds that travel between the Arctic and South America and is also a breeding ground for many waterfowl of the Atlantic coastline.   

Featuring forest and marsh, beaches and trails, is the Irving Nature Park is ideal for recreational activities as well as interactive outdoor educational programs.

Visit our website to view the Irving Nature Park schedule for information on upcoming events or e-mail us at

Follow the Irving Nature Park on Facebook for updates about upcoming events.

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