[Tweeters] Satellite tracking North American Peregrines in Chile

Bud E-mail bud at frg.org
Tue Mar 20 07:34:13 PDT 2007

Hi Tweeters,
   The Falcon Research Group (FRG) is sponsoring a new project that involves satellite tracking of North American tundra falcons on their "wintering grounds" in Chile.
   Members of our FRG team have just returned from a successful 3 week expedition to the southern Atacama Desert region where we tagged seven peregrines. You can now monitor these birds daily on our new website at www.frg.org.
   We are using the new GPS solar-powered transmitters (made by Microwave Telemetry) and the results so far have been spectacular. These units contain a small global positioning chip that is accurate to +or- 18 meters. We have never had this kind of accuracy before and it is opening up a whole new world of understanding. 
   Our web guys, Mark Prostor, Don McCall and Pat Little have linked the GPS coordinates to Google Earth and as a result, it is possible to zoom all the way down to the individual trees and buildings where the birds perch in Chile. This is the first time GPS satellite transmitters have been used on peregrines in South America and they are providing brand new information of the unknown habits and distribution of tundra falcons in Chile.
   At present, these falcons are still on their austral ranges but they will soon be migrating north to the Arctic to breed. If all goes well, you will be able to follow their movements every day (3 signals per day) as they return 6-8,000 miles north to their breeding grounds. We expect them to leave in April and early May, so stay tuned.
   To check out these birds, go to www.frg.org and click on "Field Research". Next click on "Southern Cross Peregrine Project". A list of the seven falcons will pop up. Each bird has its own page so click on one of the names, e.g. "Arena" (highlighted in blue). 
When its page comes up, scroll down to the map. You can zoom in by clicking the + on the sidebar to the left. This will allow you to move all the way down to see individual buildings and groves of trees. You have to see it to believe it.
   If you left click on the orange symbol, you can see the time and date of the signal. You can also click on the blue dates on the right to see where a particular bird was on that day.
   For those of you that have a Google Earth capability (you can download it for free), click on the Google Earth map icon and you can explore the Chilean ranges in much greater detail.
   I have been working with falcons for over 40 years and I have to say that this is one of the most spectacular things that I have ever seen. The marriage of satellite transmitters and Google Earth is nothing short of amazing. 
   Thanks to Mike McGrady and Keith Bildstein of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in PA for donating the two male PTT transmitters.
   And I'd especially like to thank all 204 FRG members that contributed to make this project happen. Enjoy the results everyone. And pass this message along to your friends.
   Stay tuned...
Bud Anderson
Falcon Research Group
Box 248
Bow, WA 98232
(360) 757-1911
bud at frg.org
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