You may recall that I reported last year on a
bird banding project that GMI is supporting. To recap, MOTUS is a program for
deploying automated receivers across the country to pick up coded signals from
We are providing technical support to the Northeast Motus Collaboration (#48) and your scribe is acting as a volunteer
technical advisor to this group. There has been extensive bird tag
testing at Marshlands with field tests and also drone missions.
report has been published where we compare two Motus-compatible tags: The
NanoTag and the LifeTag/PowerTag. The “NanoTag” is manufactured by Lotek and has been widely used by researchers using the MOTUS
system since the beginning. The LifeTag technology was developed by Cornell
University, and has since been licensed to Cellular Tracking
Technologies (CTT) from which
they have developed the CTT LifeTag and CTT PowerTag. These tags demonstrate
greatly improved performance in both detection distance and code
identification. The LifeTag is solar
powered and will run forever as long as the sun shines whereas the PowerTag is
powered by a tiny battery which works for birds that prefer to travel at night.
We have tested a number of samples of each tag variant and the
LifeTag and PowerTag far out perform the NanoTag in detection distance. The NanoTag is detectable only to about 0.5
km whereas the CTT tags have been detected out to 8 km on tests at Marshlands. Some recent tag detections have been as far
as 40 km over water. This difference in
performance is probably due the higher operating frequency (434 MHz) of the CTT
tags compared to the NanoTag (166 MHz) which makes the tag antenna more
efficient. The improved coding system provides a better signal to noise ratio
which also increases detection range.
For those of you who are interested in the technical details here
is a link to the test report.
We are also home to one of over 375 automated receiver systems across the globe.
Come join us from 9am-3pm to help clean up the trails at the Great Marsh. Please bring work gloves and any tools you might have (clippers, weed wackers, chainsaws, etc.). Snacks and drinks will be provided.
Any questions contact Lori Moore
The summer season is over and we are now in full swing with
fall migration. We had three walks this season with one each in June, July and
August. We had a total of 68 species observed including a Little Blue Heron
which was a new bird for the property.
Our June walk has held on Sunday the second. June
traditionally is a point where most of the species seen can be assumed to be
breeding in the area. We took the group into the woodlands above the marsh. A
group of five recorded fifty-one species over a three-and-a-half-hour period
covering roughly five miles. Highlights included: Bald Eagle, Hairy Woodpecker,
Pileated Woodpecker, Great-crested Flycatcher, Veery, and Scarlet Tanager among
the GMI regulars.
The July walk took place on Sunday the twenty-eighth. A
group of seven spent close to four hours covering a little over three miles. While
the birds were starting to “quiet down”, we managed to observe fifty species.
The biggest highlight was a Juvenile Little Blue Heron, a first for the
property. The group was able to get great looks as it perched on some dead
snags in the marsh. Late July into August is when Herons and Egrets disperse
from nesting sites into the surrounding areas. Other highlights included: Ruby-throated
Hummingbird, plenty of Green Herons, Willow Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo,
Swamp Sparrow, and Indigo Bunting.
Things slowed down in August as most species have finished
breeding activities and males are no longer actively singing for mates or
vigorously defending territories. Birding at this time of year becomes a mainly
“site-only” activity and some species can be difficult to detect without an
audible hint. A group of six spent about three hours in the heat on Sunday,
August eighteenth and covered about three miles. We managed to view forty-three
species. Highlights include: Wood Duck, multiple Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a
pair of Cooper’s Hawks, Eastern Wood-pewee, Yellow-throated Vireo, Cedar
Waxwing, and Baltimore and Orchard Orioles.
As mentioned at the beginning, we are now entering fall
migration and the number of species will start to increase again. Our next walk
is scheduled for Sunday, September twenty-second at 7:00AM.
See you out there!
Photo courtesy of Jim Moffett
In addition to our monthly GMI bird walks the July 28th walk will include a roundtable discussion at 10:30am of the following topics that should be of interest to fellow birders:
- Results of our inaugural Blue Bird trail. Jim Moffett organized a work party to build
and install a dozen Blue Bird boxes this Spring. Our dedicated volunteers, Dave and Joanne
Karkosak, are doing weekly surveys of the nest activity which will be reviewed.
- Mike Coulter has been using GMI’s SM-4 SongMeter
to record bird songs in various parts of the Great Marsh. Mike will discuss his results so far and
future plans. One of which is to apply
for a grant from WildLife acoustics for a number of these devices to further
studies of bird songs and the effect of Pa Turnpike noise on their activity.
- Folks from Willistown Conservation Trust will
provide an overview of the MOTUS project.
The Motus Wildlife Tracking
System is a collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated
radio telemetry arrays to study movements of small animals.
- WCT has received a major grant to build and
deploy approximately 40 automated receivers in PA, Delaware and Maryland.
- GMI has been providing technical support to the
MOTUS project. Jim Moore will do a tour
of our MOTUS test antenna farm and provide some results of our tag testing.
We hope you folks can make both events. For the dedicated birders the walk will start
at 6:30AM led by Mike. If you choose to
sleep in the Roundtable will start after the walk – probably about 10:30.
Please contact GMI’s Program director, Lori Moore at
503-544-3868 or Loritmoore46@gmail.com if you plan to attend and if you will be
arriving at 6:30AM or 10:30AM or anytime in between. Please check in at the Nature Center when you
The July bird walk has been changed to July 28 at 6:30am.
birdwatcher whether they be professional or casual, May is the highlight of the
birding year. Peak migration in the first couple of weeks offers the chance to
see and/or hear the greatest numbers of species in a single day.
This year The Great Marsh Institute is offering a unique charity
birding experience, The GMI Big Birding Day, for a group of four people
interested in experiencing a memorable day of birding while contributing to
GMI’s mission to provide scientific and educational studies. This event will be
held on Saturday, May 11th 2019. 176 species have been recorded on the property
to date and we are hoping to see/hear over 90 species with a possibility of
The plan is to start birding at 6:00AM with a break for lunch at
the Nature Center provided by GMI. After lunch we will continue to bird until
as much of the property is covered as possible. We will hike, canoe, and
utilize a gator to access all of the different habitats.
GMI has numerous scientific and educational projects in the
works and your donation to these efforts should be well rewarded with a great
day of birding.
See you out there,
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details about the event:
This event is only open to 4 participants and the cost is $100 per
person. To sign up for this even please contact Lori Moore:
GMI’s March bird walk had a group of 14 birders’ enjoying the first signs of spring migration. The morning started off with a fly-by Bald Eagle cruising over the marsh. The catfish pond and the upper marsh hosted a pair of American Wigeon along with numerous Wood Duck, Canada Geese, Green-winged Teal and a pair of Black Duck. The first American Tree Swallows made their appearance as well as a FOY Eastern Phoebe.
Heading out the the marsh and onto the lane, a group of 80 Snow Geese were observed migrating overhead. A beautiful Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in fresh plumage was seen as well. The first Fish Crows of the year were flyovers announcing themselves with their signature nasal calls.
The wet woods near the turnpike gave the group excellent looks of at least a dozen Rusty Blackbirds and a very accommodating Pileated Woodpecker working the base of a tree at about 30 yards.
All in all we observed a total of 45 species.
The next walk will be on Sunday, April 14th with a start time of 7:00AM as sunrise will be at 6:26AM.
See you out there.
Photo Courtesy of George Tallman
When: March 10,
Center, 28 Moores Rd, Elverson, PA 19520
Come join us on Sunday March 10 at 1pm to build and install 6-7
Bluebird boxes to create a Bluebird trail on the property. Please bring a cordless
power dill if you have one.
We are looking for folks that would like to sponsor a nest
box for $100. This donation will help to
maintain the nest box. Also we will put up a plaque on the bluebird box with
your name or you can name the nest box (be creative).
Monitoring the nest boxes:
We are also in need of some volunteers to monitor the nest
boxes on a weekly basis during the breeding season.
Please RSVP to Lori Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested
in helping build nest boxes, being a sponsor, or monitoring the nest boxes.
Photo courtesy of Jim Moffett
A small group of three birders braved the snow covered marsh on February 10th. This is typically the “slowest” time of the year for the birds but we did manage to observe thirty-two species.
Some of the highlights include: A pair of Wood Ducks circling the marsh adjacent to the catfish pond, 4 American Black Duck, 7 Ring-necked Duck, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle and 3 American Tree Sparrow.
As we move out of February and into March the activity and number of species should be on the rise as we move into the very beginnings of spring migration. Our next walk will be on Sunday, March 17th. With the days getting longer and sunrise at 7:10 AM, this walk is scheduled to start at 7:30 AM.
It’s time to start thinking spring and time to start brushing up on bird songs! (yes, while I know there won’t be a whole lot of singing in the middle of March I like to get an early start; but that’s just me…)
See you soon
Photograph courtesy of Jim Moffett
Our January bird walk took place on Sunday, January 13th. A small group of 5 birders braved the cold and were treated to a total of 27 species.
As we move further into winter, the waters of the marsh have frozen and ducks and geese have largely moved on to seek open water. We were still able to record 38 Canada Geese and 3 Black Ducks as fly-overs. Despite the cold and frozen water we were able to see and hear some notable species including: Northern Harrier hunting low over the marsh, Pileated Woodpecker calling from the hillside, the first American Tree Sparrow of the season, White-crowned Sparrow working the feeders and three Rusty Blackbirds in the wet areas behind the catfish pond.
Our next walk will be held on Sunday, February 10th at 8:00AM.
See you then!
Photograph taken by Jim Moffett