WASHINGTON (AP) — Georgetown University ecologist Emily Williams first became fascinated with birds not because of their beauty, or their sweet songs. She was riveted by their extraordinary travels.

“Realizing that this tiny animal that can fit in the palm of your hand can travel thousands and thousands of miles one way in spring, and then does it again later in the year, was just amazing to me,” she said. “I have always been dazzled by migration.”

This spring and summer, her research project tracking the annual migration of American robins has gotten a boost from the enthusiasm of homeowners in the greater Washington area, who’ve let her and a research assistant set up makeshift research stations in their backyards before dawn — and sometimes contributed their

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