Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Natalie A. Wright
The use of tags such as radio transmitters and geolocators is commonplace in ornithological research, especially as tagging technology becomes more compact and affordable. Tagging allows researchers to collect vital data on movement, survival, and social interactions. However, tags have been found to negatively affect birds in many ways. An under-researched aspect of these impacts is how takeoff flight, necessary for foraging and predator avoidance in most volant species, is affected by tags. Additionally, very few tag-impact studies test the same individuals over multiple days to assess acclimatization. Using over 90 House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) and two tag attachment styles (glue and leg harness), we examined how tags impact body mass and takeoff flight velocity, wingbeat frequency, and trajectory. We applied tags and kept them on for a 10-day period. We found that the first tagged flight trial had lower velocities, but velocities returned to pre-tagging levels by the final flight trial on day 10. Day 10 untagged flight trial velocities were higher than day 0 untagged takeoffs. Wingbeat frequency increased in the first tagged flight on day 0 and remained high. Takeoff trajectory was lower in the first tagged flight trial than all other trials. Birds tended to lose mass throughout the study, especially those that began at higher masses. Additionally, individuals with glued tags tended to adapt to tags more slowly than those with harness-attached tags. Our research finds that takeoff flight is negatively impacted by tagging, though performance improves with time.
Crawford, Katherine, "Tags temporarily decrease takeoff velocity and trajectory in House Sparrows (Passer domesticus)" (2022). Honors Theses. 296.
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