In Wednesday’s email, we showed you Alan Lacy’s video on ravens. If you missed it, you can watch it here. In the video, he talks about banding, which is one way scientists keep track of birds.

Banding is a convenient way to keep track of certain individuals and groups. It consists of placing a small band or bands around a bird’s leg. Each band will have an identification number on it so that anyone who spots or captures this bird next will be able to identify it and share that information.1 Bands are provided by the Bird Banding Laboratory – they also keep track of all information about birds that are banded and have been caught or sighted.2

Another way scientists track animals is through telemetry. Wildlife Telemetry is when scientists place devices on wild animals to track their movements and behaviors.3 The information gathered from doing this helps us get a better understanding of a species’ behavior, their migratory patterns, where they spend most of their time, etc. This can help us make better decisions regarding their habitat – a good example is whether or not we can thin part of a forest to help against wildfires without hurting a species that lives there.3

They keep track of animals through VHF Radio Tracking, Satellite Tracking, and GPS Tracking. Radio-tracking consists of a device that transmits to a radio antenna. Satellite tracking is a similar concept, except that the signal is transmitted to a satellite. GPS tracking is the opposite of both of these. The device placed on the animal is a receiver instead of a transmitter, which receives signals from satellites.4

Improvements in technology have helped this part of wildlife conservation and study a lot. Devices can now be made very tiny so they don’t hurt the animal or get in its way as it goes about its daily routine. From devices that weigh less than a few drops of water to those that can break off from animals and be collected later, this technology helps scientists better understand our wildlife.3

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Chris & The WERC Team