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Tracking Bird Movements Along Sonoita Creek

Tucson Audubon is excited to announce that the Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia, Arizona now hosts a wildlife tracking station and antenna array, a part of the international Motus network. This network logs all species of tagged animals, in our case mostly birds, that may pass by within detection distance providing direction and speed of travel information, as well as broader information for any tagged individuals that reside in the area. Barely visible to the public, the array of six small antennas are able to cover the width of the Sonoita Creek Valley about 1 km in every direction. It will detect every tagged bird migrating through the valley!

This is the third active Motus station in Arizona, and Tucson Audubon’s first completed installation, part of a much larger regional and nationwide effort to understand migratory patterns for a wide number of species. We’ll be installing a similar station at our Mason Center in northwest Tucson in the near future. Numerous more are in the plans throughout southern Arizona in the next few years. We aim to develop a simple public interface for our Motus stations so that people can view, near real time, the species that are passing through. We are also working with partners, from federal agencies, to conservation organizations and landowners, to prioritize projects for tagging additional species throughout the region that will benefit from such migration or breeding-season tracking information, including potentially Desert Purple Martins this summer! Stay tuned.

Jonathan Horst
Tucson Audubon Director of Conservation & Research

Photo captions:

Our field crew installed the base for the antenna array to the casita at the Paton Center.

The Motus network operates on two frequencies and our station is able to record both so we don’t miss any birds flying by.

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Tucson Audubon Society
300 E University Blvd. #120 Tucson, AZ 85705

Mason Center
3835 W Hardy Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85742

Paton Center for Hummingbirds
477 Pennsylvania Ave.
Patagonia, AZ 85624
520 415-6447

color_square_face_right

Tucson Audubon Society
300 E University Blvd. #120
Tucson, AZ 85705

Mason Center
3835 W Hardy Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85742

Paton Center for Hummingbirds
477 Pennsylvania Ave.
Patagonia, AZ 85624
520 415-6447

color_square_face_right

Tucson Audubon Society
300 E University Blvd. #120
Tucson, AZ 85705

Mason Center
3835 W Hardy Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85742

Paton Center for Hummingbirds
477 Pennsylvania Ave.
Patagonia, AZ 85624
520 415-6447