Delta Centers

Motus Tower Tracks Golden-winged Warbler

On May 13, 2023, the Motus antenna array at the Little Rock Audubon Center recorded its second migrating bird, a Golden-winged Warbler fitted with a transmitter by a researcher in Costa Rica. This bird spent a month near its capture before migrating north. Golden-winged Warblers winter from Nicaragua to Venezuela and breed in a limited range in the Northeastern US. However, it is a declining species of high conservation concern, with threats including habitat loss, climate change, and hybridization with Blue-winged Warblers.

The first bird to be detected by our tower was a southbound Swainson's Thrush on October 4, 2022. It possibly wintered in Costa Rica as well.

The Little Rock Audubon Center's Motus array is part of an organization-wide effort to better track birds at Audubon Centers. Motus, the Latin word for movement, uses radio signals and receivers to hunt birds. Small nanotag transmitters are temporarily attached to birds and other wildlife. These transmitters send a sign that a receiver can pick up along the way, specifically a Motus tower. These towers have antennas that can pick up the call from a tagged individual if they fly within a few miles of a building. Staging these towers along migration routes creates a virtual net to capture the animals' information.

The Motus wildlife tracking system is one way to monitor and visualize bird migration. Explore the annual journeys of over 450 bird species at Audubon's Bird Migration Explorer.

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