Context. Monitoring survival of free-living precocial avian young is critical for population management, but difficult to achieve. Perhaps the most promising technique available to track survival is the deployment of devices such as radio-transmitters or data loggers, which allow for tracking of the individuals.
Aims. To understand if the deployment of radio-transmitters or the process of radio-tracking negatively impact chick survival by analysing survival of tagged chicks.
Methods. Fifty masked lapwing (Vanellus miles), 42 red-capped plover (Charadrius ruficapillus) and 27 hooded plover (Thinornis cucullatus) chicks were radio-tracked. Mortality between tagged and untagged chicks within broods was compared to examine whether radio-telemetry influenced chick survival.
Key results. There was no statistically significant difference in survival between chicks with and without radio-transmitters. Radio-transmitters enabled the determination of cause of death for 0–28% of radio-tagged chicks.
Conclusion. The survival of shorebird chicks does not appear to be affected by attachment of transmitters.
Implications. Radio-tracking remains a promising way of studying the movement and survival of shorebird chicks, and is helpful but not reliable for assigning the cause of mortality.