The widgeon research
The widgeon is a species of dabbling ducks found in Finland. Widgeons prefer grassy shores and shallow and lush waters. Like other ducks, the widgeon is a migratory bird, i.e. it moves away from Finland for the winter. Like many other dabbling duck species, widgeon population has declined over the decades as traditional habitats, such as coastal grasslands, have disappeared and weakened with the decline of grazing livestock.
Habitats have been restored and local hunting restrictions have been considered in order to restore the widgeon. However, widgeon nesting Finland spend a large part of their year in other countries, and the widgeon that are hunted in Finland come from several countries. Local measures alone are not enough: a positive future for widgeon requires action and cooperation at the level of the entire migration route.
To investigate the migratory routes and habitat use of the widgeon, Project Penelope, a collaborative project led by the multinational Waterfowler’s Network, has been launched to study the movements of the widgeon population at the migratory route level, with the support of research and hunting organisations from many different countries. The most important aspect of a migratory route-level survey is the tagging of birds with GPS transmitters, which provides accurate and detailed information on migration routes and habitats. GPS transmitters are installed in Finland in particular, thanks to our domestic expertise in the field.
The Finnish Game Foundation has launched a fundraising campaign to support the GPS monitoring of widgeon in the spring of 2022. The funds will be used both to purchase GPS transmitters for monitoring and to support the tagging work itself. One GPS transmitter costs approximately 1000 euros.