Using automated telemetry to investigate small scale behaviors

Michael Ward, Antonio Celis Murillo, Matthew McKim-Louder, Todd Jones, Jill Deppe, Lynn Schofield

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Automated telemetry systems are becoming more popular and much of the interest in these systems is related to the data they can collect on migration. While these systems are providing interesting data on the long-distant migration, the systems can also be used to understand other behaviors. We used an automated system to understand the nocturnal behavior of Yellow-breasted Chats and Field Sparrows. While we know these diurnal species are active during the day the telemetry system provided data to show that both species were occasionally active at night and their activity patterns were likely associated with extra-pair copulations. In some environments automate telemetry is very challenging given the attenuation and multi-path (signal bouncing). Given thesechallenges we were still able to investigate the behavior of Brown-headed Cowbirds in a cypress forest. We determined when female cowbirds entered forests and when fledgling cowbirds left forests. Automated telemetry can also be used to quantify the mobility of fledglings. We investigated how active/mobile fledgling Dickcissels were and found that an individual’s ability to move was closely associated with its survival. The final example is the behavior of migratory birds when they are not migrating. We studied the activity patterns of Red-eyed Vireos, Wood Thrushes, and Swainson’s Thrush that were stopping over and found that at least Swainson’s Thrushes change their activity patterns before migrating. These are just a few of the behaviors that can be investigated with automated telemetry. We discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of using automate telemetry to quantify behavior
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication6th North American Ornithological Conference, 16-21 August, 2016, Washington, D.C.
StatePublished - 2016


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