Powdermill Nature Reserve receives $1M Avian research grant from Richard King Mellon Foundation

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A Kentucky warbler at Powdermill Nature Reserve.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History announces a two-year, $1,000,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to support construction of a new avian research center at Powdermill Nature Reserve, the museum’s environmental research center in Rector, Pennsylvania. The award also funds the expansion of avian research activities and public programming.

An emerging national leader in avian research, the Powdermill Avian Research Center (PARC) currently houses its activities in a 150-square-foot converted cottage at Powdermill Nature Reserve (PNR). The award provides funding to support the construction of a state-of-the-art research facility that will also host educational demonstrations, trainings, and visiting researchers. The grant will also support three of PARC’s key research projects, through which PARC will: 1) evaluate and disseminate best practices for novel technologies to track birds; 2) contribute to management recommendations for at-risk species and populations; and 3) better understand the effects of habitat and species loss on migrating birds.

“For decades, Powdermill’s Avian Research Center has been viewed among ornithologists as a leader in bird banding,” said Lucas DeGroote, PNR’s Avian Research Coordinator. “We’re expanding our research to study current conservation issues like bird-window collisions or using new technologies to track birds as they travel thousands of miles between their breeding and wintering grounds. Our new research building, made possible by this award, represents the next step in bringing Powdermill’s bird banding and training into the 21stcentury and secures our leadership role in the ornithological community.”

In addition to this grant, PARC’s avian researchers secured funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year and in 2018 to support wildlife tracking innovations using nanotags and Motus tracking technologies.

“This grant continues our record of successful awards that have expanded our work beyond the Pittsburgh region,” said John Wenzel, Director of Powdermill Nature Reserve. “Researchers in other regions and across the whole USA now turn to us for training, advice, and technical support. This grant recognizes that we have grown well beyond the little bird banding station that has been a source of pride for 60 years. We now play a major role nationally and internationally.”

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Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is among the top natural history museums in the country. It maintains, preserves, and interprets an extraordinary collection of millions of objects and scientific specimens used to broaden understanding of evolution, conservation, and biodiversity. Carnegie Museum of Natural History generates new scientific knowledge, advances science literacy, and inspires visitors of all ages to become passionate about science, nature, and world cultures. More information is available by calling 412.622.3131 or by visiting the website, www.carnegiemnh.org