M. S. Candidate, Wildlife Ecology
Major: Animal Ecology
Focus Area: Wildlife
Tracking the Long-billed Curlew
Bird watching is nothing new to Cory. He’s been doing it since he was ten years old. It was while birding that Cory met his now major professor, Dr. Steve Dinsmore. “I met Dr. Dinsmore while birding in central Iowa. I immediately recognized his name from conversations I’d had while doing field work in Alaska as an undergraduate.” Now Cory spends the summer months in the Sandhills of Nebraska studying the Long-billed Curlew. “I’m out in the field at the crack of dawn in order to find curlew nests. Curlew nests aren’t exactly easy to find especially since adults don’t scatter; they blend in and hunker down.” Cory uses rope dragging to locate nests and radio telemetry to track the movement of curlew chicks.
Informing Agricultural Practice
Cory's work is a two-part project focusing on curlew nest and chick survival in addition to studying curlew distribution within Nebraska. “At the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge I study curlew nest survival and predation as well as habitat usage. Secondly, I use roadside surveys to establish how many curlews breed in Nebraska.” The Sandhills of Nebraska, where Long-billed Curlews breed, are generally unsuitable for crop farming and are instead used for grazing. “Although the Long-billed Curlew is generally an uncommon species, it is quite an emblematic bird for western Nebraska.” Cory’s findings will provide information to aid in grazing management practices that support the Long-billed Curlew.
Coming into his graduate program in the Natural Resource Ecology & Management department Cory was not quite sure what to expect. “I was somewhat hesitant. I felt I might not know everything I needed to know. Even though I’m not an expert, everyone has been very willing to help. There are so many different areas of expertise available here whether it’s GIS, or just questions that come up in my research. It’s great to have a collaborative unit of knowledge to help us graduate students along. I’m also teaching the undergraduate ecological methods lab. I hadn’t done any teaching before coming here, but I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s fun to relay the information I’ve learned, especially as it is pertinent to my research.