Recent updates from Motus

In addition to the major milestones posted below, users interested in latest progress regarding Motus should considering signing up to the Motus discussion group.

July 2023 Updates to Motus Collaboration Policy

Dear Motus Collaborators,

In December 2022 we introduced you to the Motus Strategic Plan, and a draft Motus Collaboration Policy 2.0 as a key step in enabling the strategy. The basic premise of the policy remains unchanged from version 1.0, applying the Motus principles of collaboration, maximizing open data, and equity in research and development.

The main updates to the policy are:
  • Greatly reduced fee (on average by 50% less), and simplified structure. (Section 3.5)
  • Clearer definitions, specific expectations and timelines regarding data visibility and open data access. (Section 4)
  • New metadata requirements for collaborators whereby detailed detection data will not be visible or accessible until required metadata is complete. (Section 3.4)
The largest operational change you will encounter is that our technology partners, Cellular Tracking Technologies and Lotek, will now be collecting fees on behalf of Birds Canada in support of Motus. This one-time fee/tag will have to be paid at the time of tag purchase, before tags are registered and detected by the system. Collaborators will need to be registered with Motus, have a Motus project, and specify that they’re purchasing tags for Motus when ordering tags.

The new policy will come into effect immediately, and fee changes will come into effect August 1, 2023.

If you have any questions, please contact Motus.

Happy Motusing,

Stu on behalf of Motus Central at Birds Canada.
December 2022 Announcements to the Motus Community We are delighted to share several important updates with you, including the Motus Strategy to 2030, version 2 of the Motus Collaboration Policy, new Motus data products, and expansion of Motus capacity. In less than ten years, the Motus Wildlife Tracking System has grown into a robust international network of >1,600 receivers in 31 countries used by >2,000 collaborators studying >35,000 animals of >300 species, generating >150 peer-reviewed publications. Motus has become an international science, technology and outreach program and a large, vibrant, highly committed community of organizations and individuals around the world working together for the conservation of migratory animals. Motus Strategy to 2030 The Motus Strategy to 2030 builds on the strengths of the system to a) advance science and inform conservation, and b) build the collaborator community internationally. The strategy is intended to guide our collective work, to strengthen the Motus community through regional coordination, growing local capacity, and aligning the collaborative around shared priorities. Please give it a read and reach out wherever you see opportunities for collaboration and helping to deliver the plan’s objectives. Special thanks to the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Weston Family Foundation, and Willistown Conservation Trust for supporting this work. Motus Collaboration Policy Updating and implementing a new Motus Collaboration Policy is a key enabling step for the strategy. The basic premise of the policy remains unchanged applying the Motus principles of collaboration, maximizing open data, and equity in research and development. The main changes are clearer definitions of data visibility and access, new metadata requirements for collaborators, specific expectations around open data, and a simplified fee structure. We welcome feedback, and are planning on implementing the policy in 2023. Building Capacity The Motus strategy sets to increase local, regional and national capacity, and we are therefore pleased to announce Dr. Adam Smith as the new Motus U.S. Director, a position hosted American Bird Conservancy through an agreement with Birds Canada. Establishing more positions and creative partnerships like this, particularly in Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe will be will be key to delivering the strategy. Birds Canada is looking for a web application developer. The position will be responsible for the development and maintenance of software applications, in particular web applications and APIs, used for the management of bird population and tracking data through Birds Canada’s NatureCounts platform and Motus Wildlife Tracking System. Visit the Birds Canada job board for complete details. Motus Data Products We’re proud to announce the release of a Beta version of the Motus Data Dashboard providing a new way to explore Motus data including tag, species, station, and project profiles. If you have a chance to explore the beta tool, please send us your feedback. This is the first step in a major upgrade to the Motus web platform planned for the coming years, and your input is essential.

The National Audubon Society’s ground-breaking Bird Migration Explorer was also released this fall in partnership with numerous organizations and researchers. The Explorer features movement data for more than 450 species from a variety of tracking technologies, including more than 150,000 Motus movement tracks from 150 species. For the first time in one place these data are associated with threat information designed to inform conservation decisions, and to engage public audiences in the wonder of migration and the conservation needed to halt and reverse bird declines and related biodiversity loss. Motus Technology Collaboration In late October, Birds Canada was joined by Motus’s two primary technology partners – Lotek and Cellular Tracking Technologies for the first Motus Techtacular. Together we agreed to pursue a new collaborative technology framework that enables Motus to really excel in the tracking of small animals, drive innovation and healthy competition between multiple industry partners, further reduce barriers to entry, and to advance common standards and best practices.
September 2022 Explore Motus data in Audubon’s new Bird Migration Explorer We’re delighted to share with you news of the release today of an exciting new way to explore Motus and other tracking data from migratory birds in the United States and Canada, called the Bird Migration Explorer. Many collaborators will be familiar with this project from a variety of outreach and direct involvement over the past few years. The explorer is a state-of-the-art digital platform that reveals consolidated migration data for 458 bird species. The platform is a collaborative project led by the National Audubon Society in partnership with 9 other organizations including Birds Canada and is an advanced complement to the public visualization tools at For the first time it brings together tracking data from all technologies combined into one platform, a multi-dimensional tool for the public, practitioners, and decision- makers to explore migrations and better understand 19 threats birds face (conservation challenges) along their migration routes. We’re very pleased to be part of this project which provides a valuable new tool for the Motus and bird conservation community at large. Within, you’ll find a subset of the public summary data available from Motus similar to what’s available at, alongside information from eBird, bird banding, satellite, geolocator, genoscape and other tracking technologies. Our combined efforts have contributed more than 150,000 tracks of more than 150 species to the platform. For many species, Motus data are the only tracking information available. All Motus projects are acknowledged alongside the species track displays, as well as any publications resulting from that work. Listed project citation formats can be customized within Motus project management pages. These data are not updated in real time, but will be regularly updated along with project citations and publication information. This platform is a great example of the steps we can take in the coming years as we implement the Motus Strategy to 2030, which we will be sharing with you very soon. For now, we hope these new tools provide the community with a glimpse of the contribution we’re all making to conservation science, and novel ways we can share our data and help develop solutions to conserve our shared migratory birds. We look forward to improving features and integration with, and expanding the information available alongside platform partners. Keep your eyes open for announcements from Audubon and other organizations across various outlets and please feel free to share with your networks. Francais Nous sommes ravis de partager avec vous la nouvelle de la sortie aujourd’hui d’un nouveau moyen passionnant d’explorer Motus et d’autres données de suivi des oiseaux migrateurs aux États-Unis et au Canada, appelé Bird Migration Explorer (français à venir). De nombreux collaborateurs connaissent ce projet grâce à leurs activités de sensibilisation et à leur participation directe au cours des dernières années. L’explorateur est une plateforme numérique de pointe qui révèle des données consolidées sur la migration de 458 espèces d’oiseaux. Cette plateforme est un projet de collaboration mené par la National Audubon Society en partenariat avec 9 autres organisations, dont Oiseaux Canada, et constitue un complément avancé aux outils de visualisation publique déjà disponibles sur Pour la première fois, elle rassemble les données de suivi de toutes les technologies en une seule plateforme, un outil multidimensionnel pour le public, les praticiens et les décideurs afin d’explorer les migrations et de mieux comprendre les 19 menaces auxquelles les oiseaux font face (défis de conservation) le long de leurs routes migratoires. Nous sommes très heureux de faire partie de ce projet qui fournit un nouvel outil précieux pour la communauté Motus et la communauté de la conservation des oiseaux dans son ensemble. Vous y trouverez des données publiques de Motus similaires à celles disponibles sur, ainsi que des informations provenant d’eBird, de technologies de baguage d’oiseaux, de satellites, de géolocalisateurs et de génoscape. Nos efforts combinés ont contribué à plus de 150 000 suivis de plus de 150 espèces sur la plateforme. Pour de nombreuses espèces, les données Motus sont les seules informations de suivi disponibles. Tous les projets Motus, de même que toutes les publications résultant des projets, sont identifés à même les tracés de migration des espèces. Les formats de citation des projets répertoriés peuvent être personnalisés dans les pages de gestion des projets Motus. Les données Motus présentées sont un sous-ensemble des données publiques disponibles sur Ces données ne sont pas mises à jour en temps réel, mais seront régulièrement mises à jour avec les citations de projets et les informations sur les publications. Cette plateforme est un excellent exemple des mesures que nous pouvons prendre dans les années à venir pour mettre en œuvre la stratégie Motus à l’horizon 2030, que nous partagerons avec vous très bientôt. Pour l’instant, nous espérons que ces nouveaux outils donnent à la communauté un aperçu de la contribution que nous apportons tous à la science de la conservation, et des nouvelles façons dont nous pouvons partager nos données et aider à développer des solutions pour conserver nos oiseaux migrateurs communs. Nous sommes impatients d’améliorer les fonctionnalités et l’intégration avec, et d’étendre les informations disponibles aux côtés des partenaires de la plateforme. Surveillez très prochainement les annonces d’Audubon et d’autres organisations via différents média et n’hésitez pas à partager cette nouvelle avec vos réseaux. Español Estamos encantados de compartir con ustedes la noticia del lanzamiento hoy de una nueva y emocionante forma de explorar los datos de Motus y otros datos de seguimiento de aves migratorias en Estados Unidos y Canadá, llamada Bird Migration Explorer. Muchos colaboradores estarán familiarizados con este proyecto por la variedad de actividades de divulgación y la participación directa en los últimos años. El explorador es una plataforma digital de última generación que revela datos migratorios consolidados de 458 especies de aves. La plataforma es un proyecto de colaboración dirigido por la National Audubon Society en asociación con otras 9 organizaciones, incluida Birds Canada, y es un complemento avanzado de las herramientas de visualización pública ya disponibles en Por primera vez reúne los datos de seguimiento de todas las tecnologías combinadas en una plataforma, una herramienta multidimensional para que el público, los profesionales y los responsables de la toma de decisiones exploren las migraciones y comprendan mejor 19 las amenazas a las que se enfrentan las aves (retos de conservación) a lo largo de sus rutas migratorias. Estamos muy contentos de formar parte de este proyecto que proporciona una nueva y valiosa herramienta para la comunidad de Motus y de conservación de aves en general. En ella encontrarás datos públicos resumidos de Motus similares a los disponibles en, junto con información de eBird, anillamiento de aves, satélites, geolocalizadores y otras tecnologías de seguimiento. Nuestros esfuerzos combinados han aportado a la plataforma más de 150.000 rastros de más de 150 especies. Para muchas especies, los datos de Motus son la única información de seguimiento disponible. Todos los proyectos de Motus se citan junto a las visualizaciones de los rastros de las especies, así como cualquier publicación resultante de ese trabajo. Los formatos de citación de los proyectos listados se pueden personalizar dentro de las páginas de gestión de proyectos Motus. Los datos de Motus presentados son un subconjunto de los datos resumidos públicos disponibles en Estos datos no se actualizan en tiempo real, pero se actualizarán periódicamente junto con las citas de los proyectos y la información de las publicaciones. Esta plataforma es un gran ejemplo de los pasos que podemos dar en los próximos años al poner en marcha la Estrategia Motus hasta 2030, que compartiremos con ustedes muy pronto. Por ahora, esperamos que estas nuevas herramientas proporcionen a la comunidad una visión de la contribución que todos estamos haciendo a la ciencia de la conservación, y las nuevas formas en que podemos compartir nuestros datos y ayudar a desarrollar soluciones para conservar nuestras aves migratorias compartidas. Esperamos mejorar las funciones y la integración con, y ampliar la información disponible junto con los socios de la plataforma. Manténgase atento a los anuncios de Audubon y otras organizaciones a través de diversos medios y no dude en compartirlos con sus redes.
April 2022 Job Opportunity: Motus US Director Birds Canada and American Bird Conservancy are pleased to announce an exciting new opportunity, and are now accepting applications for a full-time Motus U.S. Director. Click here to view the job posting and apply. The Director will work closely with Birds Canada, ABC and partner organizations to help lead the management and development of Motus and implement a new Motus strategic plan. The overall goal is to maximize science and conservation outcomes for migratory animals, focused on priority bird populations in North America. S/he will coordinate and secure new funding and partnership support for wildlife tracking research for conservation across the United States, integrated into hemispheric efforts. S/he will work with the wider Motus leadership group to attract new talent to the Motus team to fill priority needs in the development of data management and analytical tools, data products and services, and technology development. Please help us circulate this opportunity widely. Francais Cher Motus, Oiseaux Canada et American Bird Conservancy ont le plaisir d’annoncer une nouvelle opportunité passionnante dans le monde de Motus et acceptent maintenant les candidatures pour un directeur américain de Motus à temps plein. Les candidats intéressés peuvent consulter l’offre d’emploi et postuler ici: Le directeur travaillera en étroite collaboration avec Oiseaux Canada, ABC et les organisations partenaires pour aider à diriger la gestion et le développement de Motus et mettre en œuvre un nouveau plan stratégique pour Motus. L’objectif global est de maximiser les résultats scientifiques et de conservation pour les animaux migrateurs, en se concentrant sur les populations d’oiseaux prioritaires en Amérique du Nord. Il/elle coordonnera et assurera un nouveau financement et un soutien de partenariat pour la recherche sur le suivi de la faune pour la conservation à travers les États-Unis, intégré dans les efforts hémisphériques. Il/elle travaillera avec le groupe de direction élargi de Motus pour attirer de nouveaux talents dans l’équipe de Motus afin de répondre aux besoins prioritaires dans le développement de la gestion des données et des outils analytiques, des produits et services de données, et du développement technologique. Merci de nous aider à diffuser largement cette opportunité. Español Estimado Motus, Birds Canada y American Bird Conservancy se complacen en anunciar una nueva y emocionante oportunidad en el mundo del Motus y están aceptando solicitudes para un Director de Motus en Estados Unidos a tiempo completo. Los solicitantes interesados pueden ver el anuncio de trabajo y solicitarlo aquí: El Director trabajará en estrecha colaboración con Birds Canada, ABC y las organizaciones asociadas para ayudar a liderar la gestión y el desarrollo de Motus e implementar un nuevo plan estratégico de Motus. El objetivo general es maximizar los resultados científicos y de conservación de los animales migratorios, centrándose en las poblaciones de aves prioritarias de Norteamérica. Coordinará y asegurará nueva financiación y apoyo a las asociaciones para la investigación del seguimiento de la vida silvestre para la conservación en todo Estados Unidos, integrada en los esfuerzos hemisféricos. Trabajará con el grupo de liderazgo más amplio de Motus para atraer nuevos talentos al equipo de Motus para cubrir las necesidades prioritarias en el desarrollo de herramientas analíticas y de gestión de datos, productos y servicios de datos y desarrollo tecnológico. Por favor, ayúdanos a difundir ampliamente esta oportunidad.
March 2022 R package documentation update We have recently revised the Motus R Book and created a website for the motus R package. The chapters formerly found in the Motus R Book are now listed as Articles on the website, and we have updated out-of-date information and added some new material. The website is automatically compiled from the R package and therefore includes function references and updates automatically when the R package is modified. The Motus R Book will remain available as a PDF. We hope you find this updated material helpful. We welcome contributions and suggestions from the Motus community to both the articles and the motus R package. If you would like to make a contribution or suggestion, please open an issue on GitHub or contact us. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
February 2022 Lotek tags are now automatically registered! The Motus teams at Lotek and Birds Canada are delighted to announce that all Motus-designated Lotek NanoTags will now automatically be registered with the system prior to delivery. These changes come into effect for all tags shipped from Lotek on, or after 5 February. This will require collaborators to have a Motus project prior to ordering tags, so that Lotek can assign a project number to the order. Registered collaborators can easily set up a project from their Manage My Projects page. Please ensure you follow best practice with every project (regardless of manufacturer) by double-checking that the tags received match those that are registered to your project, and specify a start date in the Motus database for each tag in order for them to be detected by the network. Data from these tags will not be processed otherwise. If you have any questions please contact us. Francais Enregistrement automatique des émetteurs LotekAux collaborateurs de Motus,Les équipes responsables du réseau Motus chez Lotek et à Oiseaux Canada sont heureuses d’annoncer que, désormais, tous les nano-émetteurs Lotek désignés pour utilisation avec Motus seront automatiquement enregistrés dans le système avant leur livraison. Ce changement s’applique à tous les émetteurs livrés par Lotek à compter du 5 février 2022. Cela implique que les collaborateurs devront détenir un numéro de projet Motus avant de commander les émetteurs, de manière que ce numéro puisse être appliqué à la commande. Les collaborateurs enregistrés peuvent créer un projet facilement à partir de leur page Manage My Projects (« Gérer mes projets »).Veuillez vous assurer de suivre les meilleures pratiques pour chaque projet (quel que soit le fabricant des émetteurs) en vérifiant que les émetteurs reçus correspondent à ceux qui sont enregistrés pour votre projet, et spécifiez une date de début dans la base de données Motus pour chaque émetteur afin qu’il soit détecté par le réseau. Autrement, les données provenant des émetteurs ne seront pas traitées. Si vous avez des questions, envoyez un courriel à nous. Español Registro automático de transmisores LotekEstimado usuarios de Motus,Lotek y Birds Canada están encantados de anunciar que todas las radiotransmisores Lotek designadas para el sistema Motus, ahora se registrarán automáticamente en el sistema antes de su entrega. Estos cambios entran en vigor para todas las radiotransmisores enviadas por Lotek a partir del 5 de febrero. Esto requerirá que los colaboradores tengan un proyecto Motus antes de pedir las radiotransmisores, para que Lotek pueda asignar un número de proyecto al pedido. Los colaboradores registrados pueden crear fácilmente un proyecto desde su página de Gestión de Mis Proyectos.Por favor, asegúrese de seguir las mejores prácticas con cada proyecto (independientemente del fabricante) comprobando que las transmisores recibidas coinciden con las que están registradas en su proyecto, y especifique una fecha de inicio en la base de datos Motus para cada transmisor con el fin de que sean detectadas por la red. De lo contrario, los datos de estas transmisores no se procesarán. Si tiene alguna duda, póngase en contacto con nosotros.
December 2021 Web Update: Introducing Motus Stations and more! New updates to the Motus metadata management system have been introduced. The changes are most important for project managers who are responsible for maintaining project information and station metadata, and include a simplification of Motus station/receiver management, new project citation tools, data access logging, and more. This update is an important update to support changes to Explore Data tools that will be introduced in the New Year.

This update includes:
  1. “Receiver” management is now “station” management.
    This new organization improves the user experience for both data management and exploration interfaces. Read more about Station Management here

  2. Project citations
    Projects can now create a custom citation for their project to ensure proper project acknowledgement wherever data from the project may be viewed or used. Read more about Citations here

  3. Project Institutions
    Projects can now identify lead or partnership institutions. Read more about Institutions here

  4. Data access management and tracking
    Projects can now specify their desired data access levels. There is also a new tool that logs each time your data is accessed via the R Package. Read more about Data Access here
June 2021 Strategic Development – Motus Fest 2021! Part one in the strategic development of Motus for the next decade of tracking wildlife. This event has already occured, but you can still view a recording below: Motus Fest 2021
August 2020 Motus Videos – NAOC2020 Round Table and Motus en español
We have two new videos available on our Motus YouTube Channel! A recorded roundtable discussion on the Motus Wildlife Tracking System during the North American Ornithological Conference 2020. Sistema de seguimiento de vida silvestre Motus
June 2020 Motus Network Update – Check your stations! Dear Motus Collaborators, The state of affairs have changed considerably since our last update and many projects are already underway, while others have been postponed or cancelled. At this time, it’s important to remain mindful of the fact this is a collaborative network and that researchers across the globe rely on third-party stations to be operational. Unfortunately, the patchwork of travel restrictions across different jurisdictions has made it difficult if not impossible for some researchers to check and maintain their equipment. In other cases, projects that are not running may not install or check stations as a result. While we understand there are many challenges at this time, we want to encourage collaborators to maintain their stations for the sake of other researchers where safety and regulation allows. If you have stations, please download your spring data and ensure everything is operational for the fall – some migrants will be starting to move very soon. If you have stations but not enough resources to check or maintain them, or have any other problems with your stations, there may be a way for us or others to help so please contact us. Please ensure your receiver and tag deployment information is correct and complete by visiting the Manage Receivers page for your project. For more information please visit our resources section or get in touch. Take care and stay safe. The Motus Team
April 2020 COVID-19 Update Firstly, we certainly hope that everyone is faring well and we wish everyone the best of health and strength in these trying times. The escalating global pandemic has caused many, if not most, projects slated for this spring to postpone or cancel, and it would not be surprising if disruptions extended through summer for many. While this is extremely unfortunate, we’re all in this together and at least most of the birds, bats, and bugs will be there next spring. We wanted to provide you with some important information about the status of the system while restrictions are in place, and guidance on a number of issues that may arise due to delayed projects, storing tags, station uptime, etc. Research software platform performance All Motus servers and processes are expected to operate as normal and staff are working from home to the best of their ability. While we don’t expect any major performance issues, it may take us longer to respond to inquiries, or to troubleshoot any issues. Active tags are still circulating: Regardless of project cancellations, it’s important to know that there are still many animals with active tags currently in the system– this includes long-lasting tags deployed last year, anything tagged on the wintering grounds, and anything wearing solar tags. While we certainly do not encourage anyone to go against any health or travel restrictions in your region, for those that can, or are considering limited station maintenance or travel, there is reason to ensure any easy, or strategic stations, are operating to the best of our ability. The health and safety of everyone involved and our communities should always come first. Reduced station coverage For those with tags in the system this spring, it’s fair to assume that the number of active stations in the network will be reduced as critical spring checks and setup windows are being postponed, slowed, or cancelled. This will be reflected in station metadata when that is updated, but you may wish to get in touch with various regional coordinators for updates on stations of interest. For example, critical station maintenance to the stations in Panama early this spring had to be cancelled. There are very likely similar regional implications across the network. We’re developing a tool that should be ready soon which highlights the frequency at which each station is reporting data. An increasing number of stations are reporting in real-time online which drastically increases the reliability of the network. Please ensure that all station metadata is up to date. Tag registration and start dates IMPORTANT- if you have recently registered tags with pre-set start date that will not be deployed, please change those dates or let us know so we can change them. If you have tags that aren’t registered, please do so if you’re able. Registration with the system is the only reasonable way that we can track and avoid potential duplication of codes. This is unlikely to be an issue because there are ample codes available, but we want to do everything to ensure that it isn’t an issue. Note that CTT tags are automatically registered with Motus. 2020 Tag Registration and Fee If there is any concern over fees being applied to tags that will not be deployed this year, we will be basing fees for tags registered in 2020 solely on when they were deployed, not simply because/when they are registered. Any concern over the timing or assessment of fees is no reason to delay registering your tags – we are happy to work around any payment schedule required for your organization/project. Please also recall the importance of ensuring that metadata for any registered tags is complete and accurate. For undeployed tags or tags going into storage, please ensure that anticipated start date, actual start dates, and species fields are not populated. Tags that are registered in 2020, but will never be used for one reason or another, can later be marked as deprecated and will not be charged for. Storing tags (most applicable for battery-powered tags) There was a little recent chatter about this on the list-serve. Here is the best available guidance in consultation with the manufacturers.
  1. Upon receipt, it is important to turn tags on, inspect their performance, and ideally register them with Motus immediately after receiving them from the manufacturer. After checking, and before storing, it’s important to verify that the transmitters have been deactivated if applicable!
  2. Tags are best kept in static free packaging and a closed box from the manufacturer to avoid exposure to light. Exposure to light during storage can increase energy consumption, and reduce battery and tag life. Practice physical distancing of tags – avoid storing transmitters in direct contact with other transmitters or on metallic surfaces.
  3. Store transmitters in a relatively cool (10-20°C), dry and well-ventilated area. In places that are naturally hot and humid, a fridge >=~4C, but not colder may be OK. Silica packets can help to keep boxes dry in this scenario. Fridges are not well ventilated and condensation could interfere with tag electronics over time. Do not store tags in a freezer.
Station battery storage If you are unable to setup stations, it’s important to maintain your batteries on a trickle charge, or charge them every few months to maintain their performance. Trickle chargers are readily available online, and most advanced deep cycle battery chargers will naturally maintain batteries if left connected. Alternatively, many local battery suppliers may store and maintain batteries for you. The vast majority of station issues across the network are power related – happy batteries = happy data. Disrupted graduate work If changes have seriously impacted anyone’s planned graduate work, the Motus database is absolutely bursting with data to be analyzed and there are numerous PI’s willing to help! It’s likely that unused data on your very species is lying in wait. To explore which data is available visit: . Feel free to post to this group asking for suggestions or potential projects, or contact Motus to discuss. Looking forward to hopefully being able to ramp things back up again in the fall. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
December 2019 Birds Canada and The National Audubon Society are looking to hire a joint Movement Ecologist. Birds Canada and The National Audubon Society are committed to the protection of birds and the places they need throughout their full annual cycle. The science of avian migration serves as the foundation of this vision: it not only tells us where we should invest our limited time, resources and energies, but it also communicates the story of migration to engage more people in conservation action. To this end, Birds Canada and The National Audubon Society are partnering to synthesize animal movement data from the Motus Wildlife Tracking System, and other tracking technologies to reveal seasonal movements, behaviors, and migration patterns across the Western Hemisphere and focus scientific results to reveal actionable strategic conservation priorities. The first step in this important partnership is the hiring of a Movement Ecologist will work closely with the Audubon’s Migratory Bird Initiative and Conservation Science teams and the Migration Ecology and Data Science and Technology teams at Birds Canada to promote effective conservation outcomes through movement and migration ecology research, with a focus on various tracking data sources, particularly data from the Motus Wildlife Tracking System. S/he will lead efforts to model migratory bird movement at hemispheric scales; build partnerships with academic, agency and conservation organization scientists studying bird migration and movement ecology; and provide outputs to support the missions and projects of Birds Canada and Audubon. Primary responsibilities will include:
  • Develop and apply advanced Bayesian, Markovian, frequentist, and/or machine-learning approaches to quantitative analyses of automated telemetry (Motus), geolocator, GPS, and other tracking data;
  • Develop analyses to link movement to habitat use, accounting for spatial error and autocorrelation;
  • Examine synergies between technology types, opportunities and methods for combining tracking information into movement models, conservation decision-support tools, and/or collaborate on those fronts where appropriate;
  • Integrate tracking and threat data to identify key areas for conservation;
  • Automate data extractions and processes for vetting of data;
  • Develop tools to extract key summary statistics for all available species from Motus and other tracking data, such as: flight speeds, departure/arrival times, activity patterns, spatial organization (habitat use), stopover durations by latitude/location, migration routes/pathways, and weather/climate variables;
  • Identify opportunities to fill key knowledge gaps for Audubon and Birds Canada priority species, habitats, flyways based on migratory tracking information;
  • Collaborate with diverse group of NAS and Birds Canada staff and international migratory bird scientists and institutions to synthesize and analyze movement data; Co-supervise, or collaborate with undergrads, grad students, postdocs on projects that fulfill the above;
  • Identify opportunities and collaborate or lead on funding proposals and peer-reviewed publications; public visualization and R-based tool kits to promote use and reuse of data by researchers and decision makers;
  • Travel up to 4 times per year to Audubon or Birds Canada offices, and/or attend additional meetings or conferences.
Qualifications and Experience: Required
  • Ph.D. in biology, ecology, spatial ecology, conservation-related field or computer science with an interest in biology required; 2-3 years of experience preferred;
  • Demonstrated ability to clearly frame research questions, design studies, and implement analyses;
  • Proven ability to design, manage and analyse large databases;
  • Proficiency in quantitative analysis and modelling of animal movement, including generalized linear models, hierarchical models in frequentist and Bayesian frameworks, capture-recapture methods, and state-space models;
  • Demonstrated expertise with a wide range of computer software, including R, and relational databases (e.g. Access and SQL databases);
  • Experience with advanced programming skills (e.g., developing R packages, Java, C++).
  • Proficiency in GIS, particularly with ArcGIS products;
  • Field research experience with different types of animal tracking technologies and data, including automated radio telemetry (Motus), strongly desired;
  • Working knowledge and broad understanding of migration ecology and related conservation issues; and
  • High level of organization, initiative, interpersonal and oral and written communication skills.
  • Experience with remote sensing products;
  • Experience with cloud computing and processing big data;
  • Familiarity with threats to migratory birds;
  • Proven ability to produce high-quality scientific papers or reports;
  • Demonstrated ability and strong interest in collaborating with other scientists and stakeholders; and
  • A self-starter, one who can think creatively about connections between birds, places, and people.
Scope: Two years, with the potential for renewal. To Apply: Canadian Applicants Applicants should send cover letter and curriculum vitae to Stuart Mackenzie ( Questions about the position should be directed to Mr. Mackenzie. U.S. Applicants Apply through the National Audubon Society Job portal ( To be considered for the position, please submit a cover letter and curriculum vitae with your application. Questions about the position should be directed to Dr. Jill Deppe ( Competitive salary and benefits package will be awarded based on the successful candidates experience and location of employment (Canada or US).
October 2019 Motus Website and R Package Update: We are pleased to inform you that we have recently released new updates to the Motus website and R package. These updates primarily support the integration of Cellular Tracking Technologies (CTT) line of SensorStations & nodes, LifeTags and PowerTags. More details about CTT integration are available below. We have also made a number of improvements to the R package which are summarized here Additional new features to the interface and website, and bug fixes are also summarized below. Important for R package users: Because of the nature of the changes, everyone will be required to download the latest version of the Motus R package (v3) in order to access your Motus data, and you will also be required to download a complete new copy of the .motus file for your projects or receivers. Some users have experienced issues while trying to update to the latest Motus R version. The following steps should fix those problems:
  1. Delete the old package > remove.packages(c(“motus”))
  2. Install the new package > install_github(“motusWTS/motus@master”)
  3. During installation, you may need to update other packages that already exist on your computer which should happen automatically, but sometimes there’s an error when R doesn’t have the correct permission to delete the old packages. In this case, you will need to manually delete or rename the package folder(s) where ever you store your libraries (use .libPaths() to find out where).
  4. When prompted, rename the old local database (your ‘.motus’ file). > The old file is no longer compatible with the latest version.
Please contact us if you run into any other issues along the way.  Additional new website and interface features and bug fixes:
  • R Package changes are tracked here
    • A new activity table that can be used to generate filters based on the radio activity at a station to help identify false detections was released in V.2. (August 2019).
    • A corrected timestamp (tsCorrected) in the alltags view from receiver deployments that used non-UTC time.
    • Can have multiple sessions per username in R package
  • Additional validations and fields on the metadata management page.
  • Allow receiver and tag deployment start/end dates to be edited at any time.
  • Disallow setting a species on a test tag deployment.
  • New entry on project page: Identify which institution invoices should be directed?
  • New on Lotek receiver deployment pages: specify UTC offset.
  • Receiver deployments: handle duplicate port numbers.
  • Receiver deployments: handle CTT serial numbers
  • CTT receiver and tag registration, APIs for connections to CTT servers
  • Admin interface for administrators to browse the files in CTT’s AWS storage and our NAS
  • Automatic file transfer to and from CTT’s AWS storage
  • API for returning deprecated batches
  • Support for batch version numbers
  • Switch from sg_ to det_ tables
  • Create fewer new ProjInfo objects
  • Improved handling of job processes which are interrupted
  • Many improvements to logs produced by background processes
  • Increase minimum # of database connections in the pool from 3 to 15
  • Changes to filters in detection summaries (now handled when summaries are generated)
  • API for SGData activity query
  • Performance improvements in ComputeTracks
  • Support for batch updates in Database
  • Access all session and application attributes through Attributes class
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes
  • Miscellaneous cleanup suggested by static analysis
October 2019 Cellular Tracking Technologies Integration: In order to strengthen the range of innovative technology and data management options available for collaborators to use with Motus, Bird Studies Canada has been working in partnership with Cellular Tracking Technologies (CTT) to integrate their line of LifeTag™ and PowerTag™, and receivers, SensorStations™, into the Motus network. Funding for this work was provided by one of the system’s largest supporters, CANARIE (a non-profit corporation that strengthens Canadian leadership in science and technology by delivering digital infrastructure that supports world-class research and innovation), and substantial investment by CTT. Lotek Wireless remains an important partner, and we’re continuing to work with them to improve the integration of their technology with the system. We do not view these technologies as competitive, rather complementary. Together, they provide Motus collaborators with a robust range of tools and possibilities to fuel research and conservation science well into the future. CTT’s tags are advanced variants of tags originally designed and tested extensively by Dr. David Winkler and the TABER team at Cornell University and operate on 434 MHz. There are a number of important operational differences between these tags compared to the widely used Lotek Nanotags© that currently operate on 150.1, 151.5, and 166.38 Mhz, but fundamentally the data is similar. The most notable difference is that they have millions of unique ID’s compared to thousands available with Nanotags.  There are also fundamental differences in how the tags are coded which makes data management easier. While the tags differ somewhat in functionality, shape and design, in most cases the principles of harness and attachment protocols are identical, weights of the tag options are generally comparable, and tests and projects to date have worked exceptionally well. CTT’s SensorStation receivers are a custom hybrid between the open-source Sensorgnome used by most Motus collaborators, and CTT’s own receiver that listens for CTT tags. These receivers can detect Lotek Nanotags© and CTT tags.  Sensorgnomes operating on Raspberry Pi computers throughout the network can also be modified to listen for both types of tags with the use of a radio dongle listening for CTT signals. An updated software update to accommodate this will be available shortly. Lotek receivers only detect Nanotags. The distribution of stations is still dominated by those listening for Nanotags, but the number of stations listening for CTT tags and dual-mode stations listening for both Nanotags and CTT tags is expanding. You can view the current locations of stations monitoring various frequencies using our receiver map. Data from all receivers and all tag types are centralized and housed in the Motus database at the Bird Studies Canada National Data Centre, and data from all receiver types and tags are available to collaborators through the Motus web portals and R package/book. We’ll continue to update content and instructions on the Motus website, and will post any updates to the Motus discussion group. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
December 2018
Integration of Celluar Tracking Technologies Lifetags ™
Motus recently received funding from CANARIE’s Research Software Program to support the integration of Cellular Tracking Technologies LifeTags ™ into Motus. A summary is available here, and more details will be announced as they become available.
September 2018
IOC, Vancouver
At the recent International Ornithological Congress Vancouver, cooperators presented 24 oral presentations or posters featuring research using Motus. A summary of these abstracts is available here.
July 2018
Motus Workshop Oct 5th-7th, 2018 – Powdermill Nature Reserve
Powdermill Nature reserve will host a second Motus workshop from October 5th – 7th Click here to register and view more information, or contact us.
March 2018
Motus used to study full life cycle of the critically endangered Kirtland’s Warbler
See Audubon article here and ace-eco paper here
February 2, 2018
New data download procedure and website features
We are pleased to inform you that we have recently released new data access features and significant updates to the Motus website: A notification centre is now available for each project to help ensure all aspects of your project metadata is complete and accurate. **Incomplete metadata may result in incomplete detection files.** Please click on the “Data Issues” link on your Manage Project page to view and correct any outstanding issues. Data downloads are now available by project or receiver directly through a new motus R package. Data will be available to download through this feature in real time, allowing you to update your .motus files as new data is available. Data will no longer be available through static files except in special circumstances. Detailed instructions on how to install this package, download your data, filter potential false positives, and start exploring are available in the updated Motus R Book. A new Track Search tool allows you to view animated tracks of all Motus tags and summaries from each station, easily filtered by project or species. We hope these tools will act as useful resources for your project. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, or notice any issues with these new tools. Happy exploring. The Motus Crew
January 15, 2018
Tag Detection Data Update
Motus detection data files have been updated on your respective project pages at which should include all data uploaded since September, with a few exceptions. We are working through various minor bugs for some batches which will be updated as they become available. Instructions on accessing your data are available in the Motus R Book. Please let us know if you run into any problems, or if there appears to be any data missing from your files. On behalf of the Motus Team.
September 18, 2017
Tag Detection Data Now Available
We are very pleased to announce that tag detection data are now available for download from the Motus web site! Login to your account, visit the download page, select project, and look for the Tag detections link. Data are provided as a SQLite file (extension .motus), which can be used in R. To help you navigate this, we created an online book that explains how you can load and use your data using R. The book will be expanded as new tools, R functions and examples become available. In the near future you will be able to create and update your own files directly from the Motus server within the R package (currently being developed). The processing is now entirely automated and will deal with new receiver files as they are submitted. New files submitted will be added to the processing queue, and any detections of your tags will be added automatically to your project’s SQLite file available for download. Please note that not all of the receiver files have yet been processed. We’ll soon provide a status page on the Motus web site so you can see the processing status of each receiver. We encourage you to scrutinize your data carefully for inconsistencies (e.g., false positive detections) or omissions (e.g., registered tags that don’t have associated detections data). Future updates to the Motus R book will provide instructions to help you filter and check your data. Recall that the data processing relies heavily on complete and accurate tag and receiver metadata, so please ensure your metadata are complete and up to date. Missing or incorrect metadata can result in missing detections for your and other projects. If you detect problems with your data, please contact with a carefully documented record of the issue(s). Please include enough detail that someone unfamiliar with your data can understand and reproduce your issue.
September 12, 2017
Motus Data Access Update
The following is an update to our note on 21 August (below). We are pleased to report that all of our automated processes are up and running, and are performing well. Data processing has been underway for several days and about half of all back-logged receivers have been completed. We are currently populating “static files” for each project that will include all available data to date, which you will be able to download from your project page at starting 18 September. We will post an update to this list and contact project PI’s when these files are ready, along with instructions on how to access your data. We will continue to renew these files continuously as new data becomes available, and will notify everyone when all the receivers have been processed. Until all receivers have been processed, data for your project might be incomplete. Nevertheless, this is an excellent opportunity to begin working with your data. Please note that the data processing relies heavily on complete and accurate tag and receiver metadata, so please ensure your metadata are complete and up to date. Missing or incorrect metadata can result in missing detections for your and other projects. We apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
August 21, 2017
An update on data processing
Over the past year, we have been working on computer programming intended to process most aspects of Motus data automatically. When completed, this will allow for rapid data retrieval by researchers, and support continued growth of the Motus network. This transition has taken longer than we anticipated, and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We are now pleased report that we have been making excellent progress with programming and testing. As a result, we anticipate that your data will be available to you in early September. We will provide instructions soon on how you will be able to access and use your data through a Motus R package. We will post another update as soon as the process is completed. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we complete the automation process which is necessary for an efficient and effective system. The Motus team
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Motus Hotline:1-888-448-BIRD (2473) Contact us