UMD's Dr. Gerald Niemi has seen a lot of changes in the St. Louis River since he began researching birds and their habitat there in the '70s.
The river was frighteningly polluted 40 years ago, bald eagles were rare in the estuary and piping plovers all but abandoned the area 25 years ago.
Decades later, huge strides have been made in cleaning up the river, there are 4 or 5 pairs of bald eagles nesting in the estuary and efforts have been mobilized to protect nesting habitat for piping plovers.
The work isn't over: Common Tern populations are threatened by a variety of factors including the Ringbilled Gulls that prey on their eggs and chicks in the nesting areas of Interstate Island. Likewise, the phosphorus we put on lawns is still something that threatens birds and their habitat.
But Niemi is embarking on a fascinating project; he's revisiting and resampling population and habitat data he originally collected 40 years ago.