First description of Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) migration using GPS telemetry

Authors: Tyler C. Christensen and Dane C. Ward

Year: 2022

Publication: The Wilson Journal of Ornithology

Publication Link:

Keywords: Argos, connectivity, satellite, tracking, transmitter.

Abstract: GPS has revolutionized the study of bird
migration by revealing details of migration routes, timing,
and connectivity not discoverable through other methods. To
date studies tracking migrations of raptors using GPS have
been restricted to species whose size, behavior, and habitat
permit the use of solar-rechargeable GPS transmitters. We
tested the use of battery-powered GPS transmitters
programmed on highly conservative fix schedules to track
migrations of Long-eared Owls (Asio otus), a medium-sized
forest owl. Long-eared Owls (n ¼ 5) were fitted with GPS
transmitters on their wintering grounds in New Jersey and
tracked over the subsequent months. Mortality among the
GPS-tagged owls was high, consistent with previous reports
in related species. Surviving owls (n ¼ 2) migrated north
beyond currently recognized eastern North American range
limits, spending summers at 50–558N in spruce-moss and
spruce-lichen (taiga) forests in a vast undeveloped region of
northern Quebec. This pilot study demonstrates that
lightweight , battery-powered GPS transmitters
programmed on highly conservative fix schedules can
reveal long-distance movements in medium-sized (e.g.,
,300 g) birds. This approach may help addresses data
deficiencies for birds whose habitat and behavior would
cause solar transmitters to perform poorly, particularly
species for which details of large-scale movements are

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