We documented extrusion and loss of abdominally implanted radio transmitters with percutaneous antennas from adult female Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus). Birds were captured during wing molt (late August to mid-September) in 1995-1997. Of 44 Harlequin Ducks implanted with radios and recaptured, 7 (16%) had lost their transmitters and 5 (11%) had radios in the process of extruding. Most (11 of 12) extrusions and losses occurred in birds implanted with radios in 1996 and recaptured in 1997. We suggest that transmitter extrusions and losses were due largely to changes in transmitter design made between 1095 and 1996. Transmitters implanted in 1996 were cylindrical rather than spherical, had a flat end with an abrupt edge, and the lower portion of the antenna was reinforced. Radio losses occurred after the 7-mo monitoring period and caused no apparent harm to the birds. Investigators using implanted radios with percutaneous antennas for long-term projects should be aware of the potential for radio extrusion and should minimize the problem by using transmitters that have no sharp edges and that are wide, rather than narrow.
Additional publication details
Loss from harlequin ducks of abdominally implanted radio transmitters equipped with percutaneous antennas