Project OspreyTrack: Technology
Satellite Tracking Technology
The new wave of miniature GPS-enabled satellite transmitter technology is revolutionizing how we study the migrations of birds and other animals. The first transmitters that were used in studies of animal migration were so large that they could only be put on things like bears and caribou. Within the past two decades, the transmitters have been miniaturized to the point where we can use them on birds of prey. Because we now get data with accuracy measured in meters, rather than kilometers, we can now answer ecological questions -- where are the birds hunting, how big are their home ranges? -- that we could only wonder about before.
With a GPS-enabled satellite transmitter, we can access hourly locations, altitude, speed, and direction of each Osprey. Every three days the data are downloaded via satellite. The transmitters we use on Ospreys weigh 30 grams/ 1 ounce and are attached like a backpack on the bird. They are solar powered and should last up to three years.