Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Radiotransmitters can be tail-mounted using cyanoacrylate glue and an accelerant rather than using a harness. Tail-mounted transmitters are dropped or shed when the rectrices molt, which may reduce transmitter effects while providing retention times sufficient for most research objectives. However, retention times of tail-mounted transmitters for birds are insufficiently described, and bias from not following all birds until transmitters are shed has been ignored. We studied transmitter retention of 106 birds of 6 species in the United States of America, 2010–2013, using direct observations and survival modeling based on radiotelemetry tracking. Cox proportional hazard survival models predicted median transmitter retention times from4 to 53 days, depending on species. Our results suggest that researchers should anticipate premature (i.e., <30 days) tag loss rates from 15% to 38% for adult birds, and adjust permit and funding applications accordingly. However, predicted premature tag loss approached 100% for independent juvenile birds, which frequently appeared to disperse long distances, leading to few or no failure events to inform models. Overall, our results provide guidance for the design of future telemetry studies while demonstrating that tail-mounting transmitters can yield adequate data for a variety of research objectives.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Stanton, Richard A.; Burke, Alicia D.; Carrlson, Kaylan M.; Kesler, Dylan C.; Faaborg, John; Thompson, Frank R., III. 2018. Retention of radiotransmitters tail-mounted on 6 bird species. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 42(1): 67-71.


    Google Scholar


    Helmitheros vermivorum, Picoides borealis, radiotelemetry, Seirus aurocapilla, Sitta pusilla, tail-mounted radiotransmitters, Tympanuchus cupido, Vireo olivaceus

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page