Animal Diaries Archive
27 April 2007
Quite often when we are out taking our birds for a walk, or doing one of our daily photo sessions, guests to the zoo who have seen the bird show often ask us why some of the birds have this strange thin pointy black feather that hangs off their tails. The answer to their questions is that the strange thin black feather is a transmitter. They will then normally assume that it is some kind of remote control that stops the birds from flying away. This could not be further from the truth. The transmitters are merely only there as kind of insurance policy.
All that the transmitters do is send out a radio wave pulse every couple of seconds. The transmitters by themselves are pretty much useless as they don't actually make any sound that we can hear. But when you combine them with the receiver that picks up the frequency the transmitter is sending then you can here a beep through the receiver. The receiver is directional, which means, when the antenna is pointing at the transmitter you will here a stronger beep then if the antenna was pointing away from the transmitter. It all sounds pretty technical, but with a bit of practice these tools enable us to track down a bird that may have for one reason or another gotten a little lost.
The Transmitters themselves are quite interesting units. They use standard watch batteries which can give us up to a week of continuous beeps (which is a long time if you have to track down a bird), and these beeps can be picked up on our receiver for up to about 20 kilometres. All in all this gives us plenty of chance to locate where the bird may have flown to. They are also quite small with the largest of them only weighing around 5 grams with its battery. This is not much of a burden for a bird that weighs anywhere from 800 grams and up.
Most of the patrons seem pretty interested in how these unique pieces of technology are aiding in our birds training and how they are being used for wildlife research all around the world. In this weeks photo you can see Onyx our Peregrine Falcon with his transmitter on whilst doing some work in the crocoseum.
Our Amazing Peregrine Falcons
The Peregrine Falcon is without a doubt one of the most recognised of the falcon species found throughout the world. A very powerful and formidable aerial preda ...more