Wild Waterfowl Conservation Projects
Sylvan Heights, along with the International Wild Waterfowl Association (our partner organization), is dedicated to the conservation of waterfowl and wetlands through captive management of rare and endangered species, public education, and collaboration with other organizations working towards the recovery of waterfowl species in the wild.LEARN MORE
Sylvan Heights Bird Park is proud to have collaborated on many research projects that are of educational and conservation value.
WILD WOOD DUCK NEST MONITORING
Sylvan Heights staff are monitoring and maintaining more than 100 wood duck nest boxes on private properties in Halifax County, NC. Aside from the benefits to local wildlife, these nest boxes provide real world experience in wildlife data collection and observation for our students, as well potential for various research projects.
THE BIRD 10K PROJECT
This initiative aims to generate representative draft genome sequences from all extant bird species within the next five years. The project builds upon the successful effort by the Avian Phylogenomics Project in 2014 to sequence representatives of 30 bird orders.
The samples requested from Sylvan Heights — Abyssinian Blue-winged Goose (Cyanochen cyanopterus) and Long-toed Lapwing (Vanellus crassirostris) — will be used for the next project phase: sequencing genomes from representatives of all extant bird genera.
USFWS FORENSICS LAB COLLABORATION
Sylvan Heights provides specimen standards to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Forensic Laboratory. These standards are used to positively identify animals during wildlife crime investigations, such as illegal poaching of protected species.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S PHOTO ARK
More than 130 of Sylvan Heights’ birds are now part of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore’s PhotoArk, a project that aims to document as many species as possible before they go extinct, and to raise awareness about the plight of endangered wildlife.
USFWS WOOD DUCK PROJECT
Sylvan Heights assisted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with a study that determined the effects of pollution in North Carolina’s Roanoke River on the reproductive success of the wood duck, an iconic species of North American wetlands. For four years, USFWS scientists were granted non-invasive access to breeding pairs of wood ducks at the Sylvan Heights Avian Breeding Center.
BEIJING GENOME INSTITUTE & UNC W
It was recently shown that ducks have a gene called RIG-1 that provides immunological resistance to avian influenza. This gene was shown to be absent in galliform species. However, the distribution of presence of this gene in the genome across all Anseriformes, or absence in all Galliformes, has not been tested.
Through DNA extracted from blood for several duck species bred at Sylvan Heights, we are working with the Beijing Genome Institute to obtain complete genomic sequences. These data will answer the question about RIG-1 presence across waterfowl, but also provide a plethora of molecular markers for future conservation genetics studies as well as address phylogenetic relationships among the major tribes of waterfowl. The collaborative effort between Sylvan Heights, UNC Wilmington and the Beijing Genome Institute is the first to focus primarily on non-model threatened bird species.
Research Project Request Form
Sylvan Heights Bird Park (SHBP) recognizes the scientific potential of captive collections. When able, SHBP will collaborate on projects that are of educational and conservation value.
If you or your organization are interested in utilizing the collection, please provide the following information: