Testing infrared technology to locate active migratory bird nests
Gustafson, Brian Allen
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The Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994 prohibits the destruction of migratory bird nests (incidental take), requiring industry to avoid activities that may put nesting birds at risk. Active nest surveys currently used by industry to avoid incidental take are not endorsed by Environment and Climate Change Canada due to a low probability of nest detection and the risk for surveyor caused incidental take. Active nest surveys with a hand-held infrared (IR) device could be an alternative less invasive and more effective method of detecting active bird nests than standard nest-searching methods. My research tested the effectiveness of an IR device in detecting simulated and real active nests across varied nesting habitats and nesting strategies. I concluded that the detection of active nests is possible with IR, although detection is not consistent across all habitat types or nesting strategies. The mean Maximum Detectable Distance (MDD) for all simulated and real active nests tested was 28.1 ± 2.1 m. Mid-story cup nests (n =7) were detected during active nest surveys, mostly in shrub edge habitats (n = 5) followed by deciduous (n = 1), and coniferous (n =1) forest types. There is potential in the future use of IR to non-invasively detect active nests; additional research with reduced biases (e.g., simulated nest insulation) and a more sensitive IR unit is needed to determine the most suitable approach. A comparison of active nest detections with the IR unit to standard search methods using behavior cues would determine if using IR is a more effective approach to detect active nests.
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