In April 2022, members of National Audubon's science team installed a Motus antenna array atop a Chimney Swift tower behind the Little Rock Audubon Center. This is part of an organization-wide effort to better track birds at Audubon Centers. Motus, the Latin word for movement, uses radio radio signals and receivers to track birds. Small nanotag transmitters are temporarily attached to birds and other wildlife. These transmitters send out a signal that can be picked up by a receiver along the way, specifically a Motus tower. These towers have antennas that can pick up the signal from a tagged individual if they fly within a few miles of a tower. Staging these towers along migration routes creates a virtual net to capture the animals' information.
On October 4, 2022, the Little Rock Audubon Center's tower detected its first tagged bird! A Swainson's Thrush fitted with a transmitter in British Columbia in August passed through here, and now appears to be wintering in Costa Rica. Along the way it also pinged a station at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR in Denver, CO. This demonstrates our Center's value as stopover habitat, and how birds connect us all. We're excited to see what else moves through in the future!
The Motus wildlife tracking system is one way to monitor and visualize bird migration. Explore the annual journeys made by over 450 bird species at Audubon's Bird Migration Explorer.