(February 18, 2015, The Auk: Ornithological Advances)—Want to use GPS loggers to track parrots? It’s possible—you just have to make them beak-proof.
For a new study in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, Erin Kennedy of the University of Auckland and her colleagues demonstrated this with Keas (Nestor notabilis), a large parrot found in the mountains of New Zealand. To protect the GPS devices from the birds’ crushing beaks and manual dexterity, they sealed them in tough polymer before attaching them to captured Keas with backpack harnesses. Of the 14 birds that were outfitted with the devices, two managed to remove the dataloggers within an hour and two birds were never recaptured, but the researchers were able to successfully track the remaining 10 for a week and identify where and when they foraged, roosted, and interacted with tourists. The parrots behaved normally while wearing the GPS dataloggers and showed no signs of feather or skin damage at the end of the week. GPS data can help identify essential habitats, migratory pathways, potential hotspots for human–wildlife conflict, and more, which can be critical for developing effective conservation and management strategies, and this study confirms that the technique can successfully be applied to parrots.
Read the full open-access paper at http://www.aoucospubs.org/doi/full/10.1642/AUK-14-196.1.