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Remotely Monitoring Northern Bobwhite Funnel Traps with PerdixPro Cameras

Remotely Monitoring Northern Bobwhite Funnel Traps with PerdixPro Cameras

It was early last November when I spent a pleasant couple of weeks in the woods at Tall Timbers Research Station. Tall Timbers, located a few miles north of Tallahassee on the Florida / Georgia border, conducts research into the ecology and management of fire-dependent ecosystems and its wildlife in the Southeastern United States.  One species of particular interest to biologists there is the northern bobwhite.  This ‘prince’ of game birds has shaped the culture and landscape in this part of the world and remains vital to the local economy and to other wildlife that depend on the habitats created through its management.

Other than catching-up with old friends over a cold beer, I was in the glorious Southeast to test part of our new PerdixPro digital system. Specifically, I wanted to investigate the viability of using cellular trail cameras for remotely monitoring funnel cage traps that are often used to capture quail and other game birds.  Funnel traps are simple live-capture traps with no moving parts. They are usually made from a small gauge weldmesh and are approximately 1m x 1m x 20cm in size and have a funnelled entrance.  Crab and lobster pots work on a similar principle. At Tall Timbers, the game bird department uses funnel traps to capture bobwhites for their long-term VHF radio tracking project. This study is now one of the largest on-going radio-telemetry studies in the world with close to 40,000 bobwhites having been fitted with radio-transmitters to date. This colossal amount of data on habitat-use, chick ecology, population dynamics, predation and supplemental feeding has allowed bobwhite quail management to advance tremendously over the past 20 years. 

As with any trapping operation, whether for research or management, it is important to minimise the amount of time a captured animal spends in a live-capture trap. Finding a suitable remote-monitoring device for funnel traps could reduce the time quail are in traps before they’re fitted with transmitters and released.  Our PerdixPro digital platform was designed to allow the use of many different types of remote-monitoring devices in one easy to use place, with each able to act independently or interact with each other.  Simply put, a digital ecosystem for monitoring and managing ecosystems!  PerdixPro is also a hybrid system, where data can be collected both online, via remote cellular-connected devices, or offline via manual data entry on the Portal or App. Both Android and IoS apps are available free of charge.   

When activated, the PerdixPro enabled 4G cellular cameras send a photo or video with audio to the PerdixPro platform. On this occasion, we set the cameras to take 10 second video clips to allow us to study the behaviour of quail in and around a trap. We also enabled the scheduling feature on the camera and programmed it to only activate between 7am and 7pm, approximately 30 minutes before sunrise and 1 hour after sunset.  This was done to reduce the number of activations caused by rodents, primarily cotton rats, feeding on the bait.  We placed the cameras directly on the ground at approximately 2ft (60cm) from the trap.  

The PerdixPro-enabled cameras worked great! Not only did they provided us with instant notifications of when quail were in traps, they also provided videos showing how many birds had been caught. Furthermore, we were able to easily count and sex the number of quail in the covey that weren’t caught as they would often remain foraging around the trap for 10+ minutes before moving away.  The presence of quail in traps was detected 100% of the time when using the cameras. While we also had no issues with signal, batteries, foliage falling in front of the camera or any other problems associated with using cellular and non-cellular camera traps, the health indicators in PerdixPro provided reassurance that the system was working as it should.

I hope my thoughts and observations here are of some use to game bird biologists and managers looking to remotely-monitor funnel traps when catching quail, partridges, pheasants etc.  On that note, I’ll leave you with my top 5 tips on how to use PerdixPro enabled cameras to monitor funnel traps for birds:


  • If you only need to periodically check traps, set cameras to timelapse mode at intervals suitable to your project.
  • Use PIR activation on the cameras if you require instant notification of captures or when birds are visiting the trap site.
  • If using PIR activation, use scheduling to prevent activations by rodents at night.
  • Timelapse mode can be used in tandem with PIR activation to provide regular confirmation that the system is functioning correctly.
  • Use video if you require information on non-captures.

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