Effect of radio transmitters on return rates of swainson's Warblers

Nicholas M. Anich, Thomas J. Benson, James C. Bednarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although radio telemetry can provide useful information, the possible negative effects of transmitters, including biased results and detrimental effects on the birds, must also be considered. Several investigators have examined the effects of transmitters on larger birds, but few have examined their possible long-term effects, as assessed by return rates, on small passerines. We examined the possible negative effects of transmitters on a small (15.5 g) passerine. We used glue to attach radio transmitters to 40 male Swainson's Warblers (Limnothlypis swainsonii) at two study sites in Arkansas in 2005 and 2006. To assess possible effects of transmitters on survival, we compared the following-year return rates of radio-tagged birds to birds that were captured and color banded, but did not receive transmitters. Least squared mean return rates for all birds ranged between 0.46 and 0.57. We found no significant difference in the following-year return rate of radio-tagged and nonradio-tagged birds. In addition, we found no significant differences in return rates between study sites or years, and no significant interactions between any combination of radio transmitter (radio tagged or not), site, and year. Our results indicate that attachment of transmitters did not affect return rates of male Swainson's Warblers and that the glue-on technique is a good option for short-term studies of small passerines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-211
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Limnothlypis swainsonii
  • Return rate
  • Survival
  • Swainson's Warbler
  • Telemetry
  • Transmitter attachment
  • Transmitter effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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