Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

A new method for the long-term attachment of data-loggers to shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Mark J. Carey A B , Catherine E. Meathrel A and Nicholas A. May A

A Department of Environmental Management and Ecology, La Trobe University, Wodonga, Vic. 3690, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: m.carey@latrobe.edu.au

Emu 109(4) 310-315 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU09059
Submitted: 2 July 2009  Accepted: 21 October 2009   Published: 4 December 2009


Recent advances in tracking technology (i.e. smaller and lighter devices) have enabled long deployments, of up to 12 months or more, on shearwaters (Procellariidae). These deployments have been successfully used to examine migration patterns, wintering sites and non-breeding ranges as well as at-sea activity. Hence, an effective method for the long-term deployment of tracking devices that is able to withstand UV radiation, saltwater immersion and terrestrial abrasion while reducing any adverse effects of the attachment of the logger to the bird is needed. Here, a method for attaching global location-sensing (GLS) data-loggers to Short-tailed Shearwaters (Ardenna tenuirostris) on a modified aluminium band is described. GLS loggers were attached for 12 months from the 2007–08 austral summer and 74% of geolocated birds returned the following season compared with a slightly higher rate of 82.5% for birds with no loggers attached. Body mass between birds with and without loggers was not significantly different in the short or long term. No adverse injuries to the birds were observed. We believe the application of this method with its high rate of return can be applied to all species of shearwater and will not only assist researchers in future tracking studies but help minimise any adverse effects the logger has on the birds’ behaviour.

Additional keywords: Ardenna, banding, geolocation, investigator disturbance, logger attachment, Procellariiformes, seabirds, Short-tailed Shearwaters, tracking.


We thank Aldonga Engineering, Barry Baker (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrel Advisory Committee), David Drynan (ABBBS) and Geoff Dandie (Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching) for their technical advice. We also thank Scott Shaffer, Richard Phillips, Peter Hodum and Bruce Robertson for their contributions and discussion regarding this research. Warren Paul provided statistical assistance with power analysis. We are indebted to Dennis Black, Felix De Natris, Sophie Kennedy, Victoria McCartney, Danni Smith, Terry Karis, Laura Savige and Michael North for their assistance with fieldwork. We thank and acknowledge Laura Savige for providing photos of the bands and shearwater legs in the field. This manuscript was also improved by thoughtful comments by Robert Trevethan and three anonymous reviewers. ANZ Trustees Foundation – Holsworth Wildlife Research Foundation kindly provided financial assistance. This research was conducted under La Trobe University animal ethics permit (number AEC05–15-W) and Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water permit (number FA 08145) (both to C. E. Meathrel).


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