Night Parrot captured and videoed

To: 'Peter Shute' <>, 'birding-aus' <>
Subject: Night Parrot captured and videoed
From: Stephen Ambrose <>
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2015 05:33:46 +0000
Hi Peter,

>From the TV footage that I saw on the 7.30 Report last night, my guess (and
it's only a guess) is that it was just the basic radio-transmitter that
emits a beeping signal at a certain sound frequency that can be picked up by
a receiver.  I say that because there was a beeping sound in the TV footage
and the equipment that Steve Murphy was carrying (that looked like a sound
boom with a woolly wind shield) was probably the antenna of the receiver,
but I could be wrong. I looked closely at the Night Parrot as it was being
released on TV, but I couldn't actually see the transmitter on the bird, but
I'm assuming it had been attached. Whether or not the transmitter had
additional GPS-recording abilities, I don't know, but if it did, then I
don't see why Steve Murphy would be following it with a receiver and
antenna, as he implied he was doing in the TV interview.

Kind regards,

Stephen Ambrose
Ryde NSW

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Shute 
Sent: Tuesday, 11 August 2015 3:18 PM
To: 'Stephen Ambrose'; 'birding-aus'
Subject: Night Parrot captured and videoed

Stephen, can you tell from the articles what type of tracker they used? I
believe they range from the GPS type that can transmit coordinates, GPS
trackers that must be recovered to get the data, down to the type that only
allows them to tell which direction the bird is in, which would obviously
give much less precision.

Does the use of the word "transmitter" imply the last type?

Peter Shute

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stephen Ambrose 
> Sent: Tuesday, 11 August 2015 9:58 AM
> To: 'Charles Hunter'; 'SeanDooley'; Peter Shute; 'Tony Palliser';
> 'david taylor'; 'Murray Lord'; 'birding-aus'
> Subject: RE: [Birding-Aus] Night Parrot captured and videoed
> Hi Charles,
> Yes, radio-transmitters do eventually fall off birds, but usually
> researchers try to recapture birds before the battery runs flat so
> that the transmitter can be retrieved and used again. There are two
> main ways that radio-transmitters are carried by small or smallish
> birds - they are either glued to a gauze patch that has been glued
> with Vetbond (a glue used by vets for sealing small animal wounds or
> incisions) to the base of clipped feathers on the upper back or
> carried as a harness as a backpack. The harnesses are usually designed
> so that the straps break or snap shortly after the life of the
> transmitter battery has expired, thus freeing the harness from the
> bird. Glued transmitters also tend to fall off the bird after the same
> time interval. The main limiting factor is the weight of the
> transmitter and battery pack.  The general rule of thumb is that a
> bird shouldn't carry anything that is more than 5% of its body weight.
> Technology in recent years has made these packs smaller and lighter,
> so they are being used on increasingly smaller bird species.  In the
> 1990s we put radio-transmitters on Spinifexbirds on Barrow Island in
> WA, which at the time, was a species at the lower end of the weight
> limit that could carry transmitter-battery packs, but I've heard of
> smaller birds carrying transmitters since then. I suspect Steve Murphy
> will be experiencing similar challenges to what we faced when we used
> transmitters on the Spinifexbirds since both species inhabit dense
> Spinifex clumps.  We found that the length of the transmitter's
> antenna had to be relatively short and running parallel to the bird's
> back to prevent it snagging on spinifex branches.  If the antenna
> snags on a spinifex clump it is pulled off the bird, rather than the
> bird being trapped.
> Kind regards,
> Stephen
> Stephen Ambrose
> Ryde NSW
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birding-Aus
>  On Behalf Of Charles
> Hunter
> Sent: Tuesday, 11 August 2015 7:59 AM
> To: SeanDooley; 'Peter Shute'; 'Tony Palliser'; 'david taylor';
> 'Murray Lord'; 'birding-aus'
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Night Parrot captured and videoed
> Sean, do radio transmitters naturally fall off? I understand from the
> 7.30 Report last night (10.08.2015) that the small battery lasts 21
> days.
> Keen to know if the birds (perhaps inconveniently) "hop"
> around with a wire for several months. Cheers,Charles
>       From: SeanDooley <>
>  To: 'Peter Shute' <>; 'Tony Palliser'
> <>; 'david taylor'
> <>; 'Murray Lord'
> <>; 'birding-aus' <>
>  Sent: Monday, 10 August 2015, 23:28
>  Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Night Parrot captured and videoed
> Hi Peter and all who have posted on this topic.
> Just to let you know, Dr Steve Murphy is writing a piece for the
> upcoming September issue of Australian Birdlife outlining the progress
> of much of the research that has been going on at the site of John
> Young's initial discovery.
> Without wanting to pre-empt Steve's article, the draft that I have
> seen has some pretty impressive results. Being able to attach the
> radio transmitter, (even for the few weeks it was
> operational) has enabled the researchers to probably learn as much
> about the ecology and behaviour of Night Parrots as we had learnt in
> the previous 150 years.
> As to the 50-250 population quoted, I suspect that comes from the
> Recovery Team estimates of the entire population. Steve's article will
> tell us that there are multiple birds at the site but nowhere near 50
> for that location.
> And to Paul Dodd, I have to confess that on an interview I did with
> ABC News
> 24 today, I think I may have used the phrase "hordes of birdwatchers"
> who would want to see these birds! While personally I think the threat
> of birders adversely impacting Night Parrots while trying to twitch
> them is probably pretty
> low- certainly far less of a risk than that posed by wildlife
> smugglers- I still believe it is wise to keep the location secret for
> as long as possible. We can't afford to place these precious birds in
> jeopardy and we still don't know enough about them to be able to
> safely say they could withstand even a few birders searching for them
> in their home territories.
> And no, I am not one of the lucky ones to have been out to the site.
> Nor do I have the faintest idea where it is, aside from somewhere in
> Queensland!
> Cheers, Sean
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birding-Aus
>  On Behalf Of Peter Shute
> Sent: Monday, 10 August 2015 11:51 AM
> To: 'Tony Palliser'; 'david taylor'; 'Murray Lord'; 'birding-aus'
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Night Parrot captured and videoed
> It's not clear whether they're referring to the local population or
> the national population. Surely there couldn't be even 50 locally, but
> a population as low as 250 nationally isn't good news, let alone 50.
> Peter Shute
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Birding-Aus
> >  On Behalf Of Tony
> > Palliser
> > Sent: Monday, 10 August 2015 10:49 AM
> > To: 'david taylor'; 'Murray Lord'; 'birding-aus'
> > Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Night Parrot captured and videoed
> >
> >
> > When reading through the article the following sentence
> really caught
> > my eye " Dr Murphy hopes the next round of netting will attract new
> > members of the population which could be made up of
> anywhere between
> > 50 and 250 birds. He is looking at new technology to track
> the birds
> > via Bluetooth".
> > I am baffled as to how the numbers are calculated - are
> there really
> > that many there now?  Certainly sounds most encouraging indeed.
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