The Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus) is an international collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry to facilitate research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals. Motus is a program of Birds Canada in partnership with collaborating researchers and organizations.

Automated radio telemetry uses receivers that automatically record signals from radio transmitters. It is used in various ecological applications, particularly for tracking small animals’ migration or determining fine-scale temporal information about movement or behaviour. It is particularly well suited for studies of aquatic organisms and small flying animals. Collaborative automated radio telemetry uses coordinated arrays of automated stations that monitor the same frequency to detect tagged animals over broader spatial scales. It maximizes the use of
equipment operated by many researchers that traditionally may not have had the opportunity to collaborate. Tagged animals are detected on their local array, as well as any other station in the network. Automated radio telemetry harnesses many independent researchers’ collective resources into a much greater collaborative effort that expands the scale and scope of everyone’s work while maximizing scarce research and conservation dollars. Motus is the world’s most extensive collaborative automated radio telemetry array. Motus is the central hub for  detection data from more than 750 receiving stations and metadata from stations (e.g., location, deployment dates, height, antenna bearing) and tags (e.g., species, location and date deployed).

Data from across the network is then provided to researchers and a condensed version shared with the public. VARC is using the new Motus technology in two projects at its Colony Farm banding station, one to continue research on molt migration in Swainson’s Thrushes and the other to determine migration movements of Northern Saw-whet Owls. These studies are in collaboration between the VARC, Metro Vancouver, and Motus and we look forward to uncovering new data that will ultimately help bird species survive and thrive.

Full project descriptions are in the links below:

Northern Saw-whet Owl – Project Description
Swainson’s Thrush – Project Description