Tagging songbirds with geolocators has mixed effectsLeave a Comment
The Ups And Downs Of Bird Tracking Devices May 12, 2017 Science Friday
Many songbirds migrate hundreds or thousands of miles every year, but their exact routes and flight patterns are something of a mystery. Traditional animal tracking devices based on radio transmitters are too heavy to use on such small birds, so instead researchers have turned to “geolocators”—tiny, lightweight devices that record patterns of light and darkness to estimate the birds’ latitude and longitude—to try to learn more about their migrations. New work published in the journal The Condor indicates that even those lightweight tags may have ill effects on the birds, however. While cerulean warblers tagged with geolocators seemed to fare as well as control birds during the breeding season, fewer of the tagged birds returned the following year in the next migration cycle. Bridget Stutchbury, a researcher who uses geolocator tags but who wasn’t involved in the study, describes the possible good and bad of the tracking technology….