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Thread subject: Transmitters - yes or no?
Name Date Message
Shelley 07/18/10 02:43 pm I'm of two minds in this issue. On the one hand, as much as anyone else, I want to learn and know more about birds and their habits, migration and all that. Tracking is one of the most interesting ways to literally go where no one has gone before in this area. But I also am not convinced that surgically implanting a device, especially one that protrudes from the body and adds extra wight (however minimal) is in the bird's best interest. Birds are built to be aerodynamic and their size, weight and shape are all exactly the way they are intended to be. To have wires or anything sticking out of their bodies can't be beneficial and may even be harmful, in some ways. I know the *experts* seem to know what they are doing but in reading this blog today, of the Minesota loons, I just had a bad feeling in my gut.

Minnesota Loons (read the post of Saturday, July 17)

I am fine with banding, and I know they are not the first to do this implant, but still, it just makes me uneasy and downright queasy to read this. I am anxious to read the follow-up. I wish they would have waited until they knew for sure that the first loon had fully recovered before starting on a second.

Any thoughts?

Pam 07/18/10 03:20 pm Yes Shelley, I read Larry's blog on that too. Like you I don't really like the fact that the birds have to go through being caught in nets (not nice in itself) but then to be manhandled on an operating table and aneathesthetized in order to insert a transmitter, however small, must be very traumatic for them. I am not sure that it is absolutely a necessary thing that we should know exactly where the birds go to in the winter. I believe that Loons will usually go to the nearest unfrozen water where they can find food and then return to their home lake when the ice has gone. Certainly their has been some concern with the Minnesota loons that they may go to the Gulf of Mexico so maybe that is why they decided to go ahead with implants.
BETH-OH 07/18/10 05:30 pm I have been reading Larry's banding/transmitter postings...I had a small lump Shelley when I
started reading the first segment. Larger lump now.
Mixed feelings as the "hospital" setting for the
Loons sounds experimental at best. Hope for
the best outcome for "our" marvelous Loons...
martyc35 07/18/10 06:11 pm I have to say I'm torn between science and lumps here, too. I firmly believe in observation, but interference, I'm not so keen.
Shelley 07/18/10 06:29 pm I know that when banding small birds (songbirds), nets are used to catch them. I have seen this being done here and the trauma is quite minimal as the banding and other info gathering (weight, etc) are all done fairly quickly and the bird is released immediately. It is the surgery involved in implanting transmitters that disturbs me.

I agree with Pam about how maybe it really isn't necessary to know everything about where they are and what they are doing. In my opinion, just because a technology exists, doesn't mean we have to use it or impose it on others. Speaking for myself, personally, I know there are many things in this life I will never understand or know and truthfully, I am fine with that. In fact, I prefer it that way.

Larry's blog also made it (the surgery) sound *experimental* to me. I trust that he has good intentions and that the vet is a good one. And that there has to be a *first* time, even for a vet. But it still makes me uncomfortable and I will be tuning back to see the update tomorrow.
Anne UK1 07/18/10 06:49 pm I've not read that article yet - I'll save that for tomorrow as it's very late here and I don't want to take lumpy thoughts to bed with me.

All I know is I'm relieved the LG chicks haven't been tagged this year. Yes, it's fascinating following the flights, but all I really want to know is who comes back to a nest in the spring.

If the experts really think tagging is necessary then I'll accept that. But I'm not happy about the process of attaching them, or that the birds have to carry them - particularly in the case of juvies.

I believe Rob Bierregarde has now stopped attaching transmitter to juveniles and will only tag adults. I also noticed he removed the transmitter from one adult this year so perhaps he also intends for each bird to only carry the packs for one year maximum in future? So maybe even the experts are starting to have some second thoughts about the process.
BETH-OH 07/18/10 07:40 pm A falcon at the Genesee, Alberta, Canada, nest was late getting home this year and we had thoughts that maybe the " transmitter pack" slowed him/her down.
At one nest (Canada I think) they found a new mate
because of late timing, then we had fights over
the nest site...
Celeste 07/19/10 06:04 am I keep remembering at the end of David Gessner's Soaring with Fidel, he mentions how he felt the transmitter attached to Fidel was bothering him. I also have mixed feelings, as transmitters have taught a lot. Hopefully the information that we learn helps the long term survival of any bird. I am not comfortable after reading the link, and it bothered me greatly that those loons were so quiet and obviously still sedated, plus, anesthesia as a rule for all animals is risky. I don't know why, but the following keeps entering my mind that In the early days of "observing", birds were "killed" to learn about their markings, etc. "Two steps forward and 10 backwards" also crosses my mind.
BOB4 07/19/10 08:26 am I saw this show last night about old oil wells in the Gulf being turned into wind farms. The blade diameter will be 300 ft. These wind turbines are bird killing machines. They are doing studies in the Gulf about bird migratory routes. These transmitters can only help to stop wind farms from multiplying.
Shelley 07/19/10 08:43 am If only. I hate to be such a pessimist, but if the wind farms show any chance of making (or saving) money, then even the best stats and information in the world won't change the minds of those who want to build them, and those who will finance them. The sad truth is that most *officials* and governments are far more concerned about money than they are about wildlife. The windfarms are a huge issue here in Ontario where I live and the controversy is far from over, despite all the lobbying from those who care for birds and wildlife in general.
Melanie 07/19/10 10:07 am There is a huge controversy going on in Nantucket Sound about wind farms. Accusation have been thrown back and forth on a variety of issues. What I found really weird was that Audubon Society SUPPORTS wind farms in general. Google: wind farm, Audubon and you will see this has been their stance for a while. Wouldn't you think that is counter-intuitive?

I'm still conflicted on the issues of trackers etc... We have learned things we could only have speculated about and it's not being done to huge numbers of birds like banding is done. But this idea of anaesthetizing the birds to surgically implant something is very off-putting.
Pam 07/19/10 12:08 pm Larry has now posted the final chapter.
martyc35 07/19/10 12:40 pm I was under the impression that windfarms were bird killers, too, but it turned out that the fuss was about a very, very few raptors that had been killed by the turbines in CA, and the stats just aren't there to prove that the turbines are truly endangering the birds. I think Audobon has it right. We need alternatives to oil. Read more on this HERE.
Melanie 07/19/10 02:04 pm Altamont Pass in California gained negative notoriety a few years back for raptor kills but it was because they were using the smaller turbines which are indeed a danger to birds.
BOB4 07/19/10 05:46 pm They were trying to put a wind farm off Jones Beach, but it seems the numbers were inflated on the payback side. Of course the numbers on the installation side were under inflated. Big business are the ones pushing these wind farms and so far I see nothing but a Wall Street scam.
Melanie 07/19/10 11:11 pm Sounds similar to Cape Wind, too - a lot of double talk. None of the power generated would benefit anyone living on the Cape - it all gets sold to the National Grid.

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