At first glance the radio transmitter looked like a firecracker with a long fuse. It was a lucky fluke, not a firecracker – that transmitter lying on the Mendenhall Wetlands near Juneau had been implanted in a sea duck ten years earlier and 900 miles south.
Scoters nests are scattered over a vast area from eastern Interior Alaska across northern Canada, and for this reason, scoter nesting habits have been poorly understood and historically difficult to research. Implanted radio transmitters for ducks have contributed valuable insights in recent years.
One insight is that scoters and sea ducks exhibit site fidelity, a preference for and loyalty to specific areas.
“They come back to same general area - not only that, but certain birds are always found in certain bays, the same spot as in previous years,” Esler said. “That’s kind of the sea duck paradigm, they know what they like and they like what they know.”