The NJSEA extends a HUGE thank you to the Bergen County Audubon Society for its donation of $8,000 to fund the Authority’s new Motus Wildlife Tracking System, a tremendous asset to the agency’s efforts to track migratory birds in the Meadowlands. Pictured is NJSEA Assistant Director of Natural Resources Management Terry Doss accepting the BCAS check from Bergen Audubon President Don Torino.
Motus is an international collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry to facilitate research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals. Thanks again to BCAS for funding this very important project!
Here’s more about Motus from Terry Doss:
We all know that the Meadowlands is a unique place to find birds, and that these birds serve as a sort of compass to let us know how we’re doing and what the current health status of our region is. We’ve recently added a new tool to help us increase our understanding and knowledge.
This system is called a Motus Wildlife Tracking System.
In the past, to understand how migratory birds use the Meadowlands, we’ve been banding birds, which is a tedious effort. You have to band thousands of birds to successfully recapture a few individuals and ultimately gather data to learn about each individual’s journey or destination.
But by using Motus, we can look at migration routes in real-time using old fashioned radio telemetry.
We use this system by first fitting birds with small geolocators. Transmissions from the geolocators are then picked up by a series of towers placed in opportune areas.
Motus, which is the latin word for movement, is a new way to use older technology to track migrating birds. The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is an international research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry to facilitate research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals. It was developed by Birds Canada in partnership with collaborating researchers and organizations.
These relatively small towers use radio signals and receivers to track birds. The small nanotags transmit a signal a few times every minute that can be picked up by a Motus tower. Staging these towers along migration routes creates a virtual net to capture the animals’ information. These towers connect to the internet and download tag ID numbers as they are detected in real-time, giving the researchers who deployed these tags the whereabouts of the bird as the individual migrates. The towers are the perfect blend of old and new technologies to make understanding the mysteries of migration more affordable, comprehensive, and collaborative with a wide range of hosts and partners deploying tags and hosting towers. The result is a better understanding of the full life cycles of imperiled migratory species in a cooperative scientific approach.
There have been many towers placed throughout Canada and the Americas, but more are needed to fully understand the migratory routes of birds. And despite the importance of the Atlantic Flyway in our area, there are few MOTUS towers within our region.
But now we will be placing a Motus Tower in the Meadowlands.
Thanks to the generous funding by Bergen County Audubon Society, we’ll be siting a MOTUS tower here in the District. BCAS provided us with the funding last week, and we are now working quickly with Cailin O’Connor Fitzpatrick from Kean University and Willistown Conservation Trust to get the tower up and running to capture data from this spring’s migration.
Similar to how we band birds, we’ll be working with Ms. Fitzpatrick from Kean University to place nanotags on small songbirds from the Meadowlands. These birds can then be tracked using the MOTUS towers set up around the world. And our new tower will provide information to all the scientists from around the world tracking their birds.
The new BCAS Motus Tower will be managed and maintained by NJSEA staff, so it will be a truly collaborative project that will inform not only us but scientists from around the world. We’ll learn a lot about the incredible journeys birds traveling through the Meadowlands undertake, and we look forward to telling you more about this project as it progresses.
So a big thank you to Don Torino and BCAS and his army of volunteers.