While adequate manning and training are the principle tools used by falconers to maintain a relationship with  non-imprinted raptors, once flying, raptors can quickly get out of eyesight.  Moreover, sometimes this is exactly what both the raptor and a falconer may want to happen. Loudly blowing on a whistle that would deafen any nearby quarry, and boldly swinging a lure in the open is not always a viable option to locate one's raptor. Falconers usually place two small bells, one a high tone and one a low tone, on the raptor in places that take advantage of the common body movements made by that species. This helps the falconer locate the bird when they are setting up to flush quarry and when looking for raptors that have taken a perch in a hiding place. Sometimes, for example, while pursuing quarry, being mobbed by crows, or chased by another raptor, a trained raptor can travel a fair distance and even a whistle and lure can become ineffective. At other times a falcon or soaring hawk can "sky-out" meaning it is flying so high that a falconer cannot see it in the sky. In these types of instances, to save time, energy, and stress, a falconer uses radio telemetry. A small light transmitter or two are placed on the raptor. This can then be used to track down any bird which has strayed too far, or may be nearby but simply cannot be seen by the falconer when one needs to immediately know exactly where the bird is. Eagles will sometimes go to great lengths to kill smaller raptors. An ability to immediately call back ones raptor is critical in some areas.

Currently, NLFA member Justin Leyte is conducting an extensive test of a variety of competing telemetry systems covering many of the main producers. We will post the results of his testing here once complete. This is the first instance we are aware of where this has been done by an independent third party person. The falconry world is currently monitoring his updates on the International Falconry Forum.


Long Range Tracking of Raptors

Falconers may become bird banders. This requires training, a mentor, permits, and is not easily done in Newfoundland and Labrador. For more information please visit the Bird Banding Office of Canada and visit the website of North American Bird Banding Council. Currently there is a shortage of banding trainers in Atlantic Canada. Banding birds in Canada has been happening for more than 100 years. Much of what we know about migrating birds is a result of the dedication of bird banders. However, more recent advances in technology are revolutionizing bird research. A peregrine banded here in Labrador ended up in Brazil!

GPS Satellite Transmitters
These transmitters use GPS satellites to track the movements of birds. This is a new and developing field of electronic engineering which provides previously unattainable results. Questions like: Do individual birds use the same migration path?, Where are the critical resting/stopping/feeding sites along a route?, Do these sites change?, and many others can now be much more easily answered. This is providing researchers with critical information which can be used to better manage our birds and planet in general. So far, GPS transmitters have been used on seabirds, eagles, migrating geese, harlequin ducks, osprey, and perhaps others we are unaware of in Newfoundland. Recently a peregrine that left Quebec ended up in Nicaragua in 22 days! No wonder the word peregrine comes from the word "wandering falcon".

Radar Tracking
Doppler radar is revolutionizing the tracking of migrating flocks of birds over great distances. A national network has been set up in the USA and even more thorough and complete networks have been set up in Europe. It has been used to track migration numbers, times, locations, behaviours, and of course to reduce bird strikes by aircraft. We now have modern doppler radar installations in two locations in Newfoundland and Labrador (
Marble Mountain and near Holyrood and ironically on the Hawk Hills) but sadly neither are currently used in bird research. However, if you visit the sites listed above and look at the 5dBZ to 25dBZ range (light blue, blue, and light green) from about 10PM to 2AM (-2.5hrs to change current time to UTC time) in the spring (April and May) and fall (October and November) you may be able to tell how good the next morning of bird watching might be in your favorite migration bird watching spot. You'll notice the Corduroy Bird Sanctuary "Lights Up" on clear nights with a southerly wind in spring and northerly wind in the fall. For more information on doppler radar bird research please visit examples like: USGS National Wetlands Research Center and


A nice moving frame radar image of a migration that starts at night. You can see the flocks of birds light up the various radar stations as they take to the sky. Visit for current migration news and images.

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