The wide use of radiotelemetry in avian field studies justifies the continued search for improved methods of attaching transmitters. Subcutaneous implantation of radiotransmitters into the furcular cavity of birds has been proposed to ameliorate many deleterious effects of radiotransmitters (J. Berdeen, South Carolina Cooperative Research Center, personal communication). Using wild adult chukars (Alectoris chukar) brought into captivity, we implanted radiotransmitters subcutaneously into their furcular cavity and compared a suite of behavioral, endocrinological, and physiological measures in implanted chukars with controls. Implanted chukars did not differ from controls in maintenance, agonistic, or reproductive behaviors during 11 weeks of observation. Implanted chukars also did not differ from control chukars in an array of blood values designed to test for infection or implant rejection and did not experience chronic stress based on circulating corticosterone levels. Necropsy indicated complete healing of insertion sites with no signs of infection, foreign body reaction, or rejection. Implanted chukars did not differ from controls in mass, body fat, fecundity, or reproductive condition. We conclude that subcutaneous implantation of radiotransmitters into the furcular cavity was well tolerated by chukars and may prevent deleterious effects associated with other methods of transmitter placement.
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