GPS TRACKING OF THE FORAGING MOVEMENTS OF OILBIRDS (STEATORNIS CARIPENSIS) FROM THE DUNSTON CAVE AT ASA WRIGHT NATURE CENTRE, TRINIDAD

David Allen Oehler, Mike G. Rutherford, Danielle La Bruna, Kimberly Chu Foon, Leonard Weakly, Jr

Abstract


The ranging behaviors of the Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis) in Trinidad are not well defined and are required to better outline fu- ture conservation management parameters for this species. Due to the nocturnal foraging behaviors of the Oilbird, past observations were restricted to colony site observations, video recordings, and limited electronic tracking over short periods. Utilizing newly developed small- scale Global Positioning System (GPS) data loggers, we were able to determine the flight and foraging behaviors of two oilbirds that roost at the Asa Wright Nature Centre for up to 270 days. The use of backpack style GPS tracking devices provided high site resolution and accuracy of the movements and a better understanding of the annual foraging behaviors of the oilbirds in the Asa Wright Nature Centre colony. The oilbirds’ home range was determined to be 3,564.6 km2, with an average trip distance from Dunston Cave of 7.33 km, excluding an interme- diary migration point in Venezuela. 48.5% of the foraging area consisted of locations within the Northern Range, while 27.7% of these trips remained within the Arima Valley, which is only partially protected from quarrying activities. This data document the previously unknown patterns of habitat use of the Oilbird and serves as a pilot study to determine the conservation importance of those habitats for the develop- ment of long-term conservation action plans for these iconic birds.


Keywords


Oilbird ­ Steatornis caripensis ­ wildlife tracking ­ conservation management

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