Tracking Birds: How a Little Backpack Could Affect the Life of a Wild Bird

Frontiers for Young Minds

ABSTRACT

Do you know it is possible to track the movement of birds wherever they go? GPS-transmitters, which look like little backpacks, can be carried by birds, allowing their movements to be monitored over both long time periods and great distances. However, before equipping birds with these “little backpacks,” it is important to investigate if and how the GPS-transmitters affect the birds’ behavior and bodily processes, for example their stress levels. To find this out, we observed the behavior of a group of northern bald ibises that were tagged with GPS-transmitters and compared them with a non-tagged group. We did not find any behavioral differences among the tagged and the control birds, but 1 month after tagging, the levels of stress were higher in the tagged group. Since the northern bald ibis is an endangered species, it is very important for researchers trying to protect the ibis to be sure that GPS-tagging does not increase the stress level of this animal.

Pühringer-Sturmayr, V., Hemetsberger, F., & Frigerio, D. (2020). Tracking Birds: How a Little Backpack Could Affect the Life of a Wild Bird. Frontiers for Young Minds.