Non-invasive Monitoring of Nest Boxes
goPro , bat detector , Echo Meter Touch 2 , nest boxes , wildlife , flying squirrels
Nest boxes are an important wildlife management tool which have proven successful in long-term recoveries of waterfowl and other species. Previous studies have shown that flying sqquirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus and G. volans) communally nest in these boxes in northern New York. We sought to monitor wildlife occupancy in nest boxes using non-invasive technologies including cameras and acoustic devices. Between 2019-2020, nest boxes were monitored at the recently burned Altona Flat Rock Forest in northern New York. GoPro cameras were mounted to telescoping poles to check nest boxes for occupancy and other wildlife sign. Later in the survey, goPros were mounted to the boxes for overnight visual and acoustic sampling. Concurrent acoustic sampling was performed using a smartphone enabled bat detector (Echo Meter Touch 2), as studies have shown flying squirrel vocalizations fall in the detectable range of many bat species. Monitoring revealed sign of wildlife (e.g., nests, debris, scat) in nest boxes erected in the burn site. In addition, acoustic data confirmed the presence of a species of concern in our region, the eastern whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) who are known to have strict habitat needs involving open forests and a dense understory to protect nests from predators. This research has offered a window into the potential success wildlife professionals might have using alternative survey methods (e.g., technology) when monitoring sensitive species.