We studied the behavioral effects of necklace-style radiotransmitters on breeding male western burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) in 2 areas of northwestern Texas, USA, in 2004 and 2005. We tested the hypothesis that transmittered owls would spend time interacting with their necklaces and as a result spend less time in vigilance and resting activities than would nontransmittered owls. Nontransmittered owls (n = 6) spent significantly more time being vigilant (P = 0.007) than did transmittered owls (n = 3) in 2004, who spent significant amounts of time interacting with their necklaces. In 2005, behaviors of transmittered owls (n = 8) were significantly different (P < 0.001) from control individuals (n = 4), but behaviors did not vary consistently by treatment period (prenecklace vs. necklace vs. postnecklace periods). Behavioral activity budgets varied considerably among individuals. Although the owls spent a significant amount of time interacting with their necklaces, they appeared to habituate to the presence of the transmitters within a relatively short period (<1 week), and necklaces did not affect survivorship or fitness in the short-term.
Additional publication details
Effects of radiotransmitter necklaces on behaviors of adult male western burrowing owls