SAWMA Matters


Birdcall lures improve passerine mist-net captures at a sub-tropical African savanna


Mduduzi Ndlovu

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Field research techniques are constantly evolving to meet the needs of the scientific community. There is a growing need for field biology studies to shift towards increasing efficiency and quality of results while simultaneously decreasing cost in both the researcher’s time and resources. I tested the efficacy of using multiple recorded birdcall lures (n = 172 species) to improve mist-net captures at a subtropical African savanna setting. Capture success was compared between passive and birdcall enhanced mist-nets during winter and summer seasons. Results suggest that the use of birdcalls does significantly increase the total number of birds caught in both seasons and also increases the diversity of passerine species. Conventional passive mist-nets without an audio lure were initially productive but their capture rate subsequently decreased as sampling days progressed. Birdcall lure enhanced mist-nets had a constant capture output during the summer season. The most responsive birds to audio lures were gregarious species (e.g. Pycnonotus barbatus, Dryoscopus cubla, Prionops plumatus, Phoeniculus purpureus, Turdoides jardineii and Lamprotornis chalybaeus) and the aggressive Dicrurus adsimilis and Acridotheres tristis. I conclude that birdcall lures can be used in summer and winter seasons to improve mist-net captures especially for studies focusing on gregarious and aggressive passerine species in a sub-tropical African savanna setting.

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