Photo courtesy

Chiswick Chap / Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have been able to learn the flight habits of nocturnal birds in the Westman Islands using the world’s smallest GPS tracker, RÚV reports.

Leach’s storm petrels, manx shearwaters, and petrels are all nocturnal birds that travel long distances and inhabit the Westman Islands for part of the year. Scientists wanted to know more about bird movement patterns, so they attached a GPS device weighing only 0.95 grams to the bird.

“This has never been done in Iceland and is actually mapping the habitat of these species,” said Erpur Snær Hansen, director of the Southern Region Nature Center.

The results show that birds travel far to feed. In winter, birds can travel south to Brazil and Namibia. Scientists are also trying to test the DNA of birds.

“One of them decided to go to Roccole, 600 km south, and they go quite far,” says Erpur. “They are heading south because they are climbing the Atlantic ridge, where the main ocean is located, but they are in a very large area.”

Since GPS devices do not have transmitters, scientists need to find birds to collect data.

“It’s a bit of a problem because they live underground and we have to find and dig them out. We play their sounds, they react to us, and then we I know where they live, “says Erpur.

As climate change and sea level rise, it is important to track birds.

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