Pinellas County begins tracking of Black Skimmers

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Pinellas County has a new way to keep track of shorebirds using tiny nano tag transmitters.

Early Wednesday morning on St. Pete Beach, scientists and volunteers attached the transmitters with small antennas to the backs of several Black Skimmers, a threatened shorebird now nesting on area beaches. 

"First, we want to know if they're still alive. Second, where do they go when they're not breeding? We think they stay here, but we know some move around so it's very important data," says Dr. Beth Forys, a professor at Eckerd College.

Signals from the transmitters can be picked up on a new receiving tower at Ft. Desoto County Park. Volunteer Lorrain Margeson asked the Pinellas County to install the tower. 

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"'[The county said] We have funds available in the parks department and we're going to do this.' It's that important and you do not get that from government that often," says Margeson.

The tower in Pinellas County is connected to a network of receiving stations from Canada to South America, allowing scientists to track migratory and local birds.