Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

A new audio-visual technique for effectively monitoring nest predation and the behaviour of nesting birds

Diane Colombelli-Négrel A , Jeremy Robertson A B and Sonia Kleindorfer A

A School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: jeremy.robertson@flinders.edu.au

Emu 109(1) 83-88 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MU08048
Submitted: 16 September 2008  Accepted: 17 December 2008   Published: 10 March 2009


Effective monitoring techniques are vital to understanding a range of behaviours and their consequences for evolution of life histories. Video and photographic monitoring is regularly used but rarely with audio monitoring even though it can identify birds or predators off-camera, and detect alarm calls and songs. We developed a 4-channel audio-visual recording system to continuously monitor the nests of Superb Fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus). This innovative system worked autonomously for 3 days and identified repeat visits by some predators, detected nest predation by Grey Currawong (Strepera versicolor) and two rodents, and provided new insights into nest defence, provisioning rates, vocalisations of parents and nestlings and interactions between them.


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