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Removal of nestling radio-transmitters by adult Spragues pipit Anthus spragueii

, : Removal of nestling radio-transmitters by adult Spragues pipit Anthus spragueii. Journal of Ornithology: 749-753

Fledgling birds are notoriously difficult to find and capture because of their cryptic behavior. As a result, researchers usually affix transmitters to nestlings to study aspects of post-fledging ecology. However, parents may attempt to remove nestling transmitters, which could negatively impact nestlings. We attached radio-transmitters to 95 Sprague's Pipit (Anthus spragueii) nestlings using a modified Rappole and Tipton leg harness. Within 1-2 days after transmitter attachment, we recorded six cases of parents removing transmitters from nestlings and depositing the transmitters outside the nest. At one of these nests, we videotaped parents pecking and pulling at nestlings that had transmitters and also dragging a nestling out of the nest by the transmitter. Of 12 video-monitored nests where we attached transmitters to nestlings, 33% had cases of parents attempting to remove transmitters by pecking and pulling at nestlings. Our observations highlight the need to closely monitor nestlings with transmitters so that researchers have the opportunity to reattach transmitters should parents remove them and to monitor the health of nestlings. Video-monitoring nests could also help to identify any unseen, negative impacts on nestlings due to transmitter attachment.


DOI: 10.1007/s10336-010-0503-2

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