The plan worked, as capture crews successfully caught 42 LTDUs during fall 2016 and more than doubled LTDU capture efficiency.
Although the Judas birds did not directly lead to additional captures, they did provide a wealth of information on LTDU movements.
Previous studies have shown that mortality or transmitter malfunction has been high for LTDUs implanted with satellite transmitters (45%-55%) (5,6); ascertaining whether a transmitter failed or the LTDU died is difficult because of the habitats used by LTDUs.
In April 2015, US Geological Survey (USGS) researchers with the aid of volunteers, conducted a pilot study to determine whether LTDUs could be captured on the open waters of Lake Michigan.
Researchers and volunteers anxiously awaited the arrival of LTDUs before the 2015 fall capture effort and large concentrations of these elegant birds began to arrive in early November.
In mid-April 2016, Lubinski conducted flights with a Phase One iXU-R180 color digital camera, comounted with a FLIRSC8343 thermal camera to test the effectiveness of these cameras for taking high-quality images of LTDUs. Daytime flights indicated that both cameras could detect and record images of LTDUs, which meant that the thermal camera could be used to locate LTDUs at night.