BirdOriTrack: a new video-tracking program for orientation research with migratory birds

Rachel Muheim, Ian Henshaw, Sissel Sjöberg, Mark E. Deutschlander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experimental research on the orientation of migratory songbirds is traditionally conducted using orientation funnels or automatic registration cages that record the directional activity of individual birds on paper or a computer. Most traditionally used funnel and cage designs do not permit investigators to observe detailed behavior of the birds and, therefore, we have gained little insight into the actual behavior of birds while they are exhibiting migratory restlessness and making directional choices. Such behavior can only be studied by direct observation or by video filming. Here, we present BirdOriTrack, a video-tracking program for extracting time-resolved, positional data of birds ( and potentially other animal species) to determine their orientation relative to the center of a circular cage/funnel. With relatively inexpensive cameras, recording equipment, and cages, orientation experiments can easily be conducted and analyzed using BirdOriTrack. The program is designed to be flexible, allowing analysis of orientation behavior of birds of any size in different cage designs and in both controlled laboratory settings and field-based studies. To demonstrate the program's utility, we show the results of preliminary field experiments on several species of migratory birds captured at a migration monitoring station. BirdOriTrack is freely available at
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-105
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Zoology

Free keywords

  • migration
  • migratory restlessness
  • orientation
  • passerines
  • video-tracking program


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