American kestrel #42329 spent its winter around Masonboro Island on the southern coast of North Carolina, before starting its annual flight north on April 14. 

On its way toward New Hampshire, it was tracked in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Vermont before arriving near the Granite Lake Headwaters property in Stoddard – a stopover on its way to central Maine. 

When the kestrel reached the Granite State, about 830 miles later, it was flying around 28 mph. It arrived in Maine days after, where it was last tracked on April 28.

How do we know so much about the seasonal commute of one American kestrel, North America’s littlest falcon? Because of a high-frequency miniaturized transmitter previously attached to the bird, its path was tracked by automated telemetry receiving stations spanning the East Coast. There are more than a dozen located in New Hampshire, feeding an international effort that’s revolutionizing wildlife migration research. 

“They are listening 24 hours a day, seven days a week for signals from the nanotags,” Carol Foss, senior adviser for science and policy at New Hampshire Audubon, said of the stations.

That’s the start of this New Hampshire Bulletin story about MOTUS, a wilflife-tracking system that I wrote about in 2020 (here). The system has gone great guns since then – it’s nice to see.

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