The Louisiana Waterthrush (waterthrush: Seiurus motacilla) is a forest-dwelling, Nearctic-Neotropical migratory passerine that nests along streams. We attached radiotransmitters (0.6-0.8 g) to 12 nestling waterthrushes using snug, elastic loops. At three nests, adult waterthrushes were videotaped removing radio-tagged young from the nest. In addition, we recovered nine radio-backpacks (with two still attached to the carcasses of nestlings) near nests within a few days after attaching transmitters. Only one of 12 radio-tagged young was relocated more than 24 h after attaching the transmitter. Thus, the method of transmitter attachment we used was not effective. Using snug, nonelastic loops (e.g., nylon) for the harness may reduce the loss of transmitters, but may injure the skin as fledglings grow. Other possible alternatives include (1) gluing the transmitter to skin on the back of nestlings, (2) capturing fledglings in mist nets and attaching transmitters a week or more after fledging by which time contour feathers have grown and the likelihood of a parent removing the transmitter may be reduced, or (3) attempting to monitor fledglings without attaching transmitters. The success of the latter two alternatives would likely be enhanced by attaching transmitters to adults and then tracking them to locate their still-dependent fledglings.
Additional publication details
Detrimental impacts of radiotransmitters on juvenile Louisiana Waterthrushes