As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Autonomous acoustic sensors help researchers find endangered seabirds

Technology to detect and record bird calls could be more cost-effective than surveys by field biologists for monitoring marbled murrelet nesting sites

Date: February 25, 2016
Source: University of California - Santa Cruz

Marbled murrelets are so secretive that biologists didn't even know where they nested until the 1970s, and monitoring the populations of these endangered seabirds remains a challenge. A new study, however, suggests that autonomous acoustic sensors used to detect and record murrelet calls could offer a viable alternative to surveys conducted by field biologists.

In comparison to the traditional surveys used to find the shy birds, the new technology could enable scientists to conduct broader, more cost-effective searches, according to UC Santa Cruz graduate student Abraham Borker, first author of a paper on the new findings published in Wildlife Society Bulletin.

Marbled murrelets are the odd ducks of seabirds. For most of the year, they sport typical marine bird plumage, dark on top and light on bottom to conceal them from predators above and below. But when breeding season nears, they turn a mottled ashy brown, which blends well with the coastal old-growth redwood forests where they nest. Murrelets sometimes fly up to 50 miles inland to nest, laying a single egg on a bed of moss high in a large tree.

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