Berry College has installed a Motus Wildlife Tracking System on campus to track the migratory patterns of North American birds, thanks to a grant from the Georgia Ornithological Society.

The system, which is on Lavender Mountain near the House of Dreams, works to prevent bird extinctions by studying the migratory patterns of birds to identify conservation priorities and data on threats to various species of birds. The data gathered is shared to researchers across the world that are affiliated with this network.  

According to the American Bird Conservancy, 13 bird species have gone extinct in the last 50 years, and “…only 18 percent of the most threatened species can be considered effectively protected from extinction at present.” Motus will act as mitigation to the threat of a higher rate of extinctions.  

Berry Biology Professor Chris Mowry is overseeing the project which allows the college to become a part of a worldwide network that monitors primarily birds, but also bats and butterflies. Researchers safely tag these animals with a radio transmitter and can then track their flight patterns when the animal flies within 10-15 kilometers of a tower. 

“Our campus is the perfect spot for this system given the location and elevation of Lavender Mountain and its position along the North American flyway for migratory birds,” Mowry said. 

Peak migration season is in the spring, but the system has had some neat data already. A short-billed dowitcher was tagged at Hudson Bay, Manitoba on June, 14, 2022 and at Berry on July 10, 2022 and it then made its way to Florida a few days later.  

“This is a shore bird and not something we would ever see in north Georgia, but it passed through! Nearly 1,750 miles, all with a small transmitter attached to it,” Mowry said.

This program will also provide a new avenue of interest for Berry’s already active ornithological community. The Berry Eagle Cam, which features a pair of bald eagles nesting on campus, attracts millions of views each year

Motus will supplement the new wildlife, ecology and conservation emphasis in the biology major, giving students hands-on experience and the opportunity to participate in a global community of researchers. To learn more about the Motus tracking system, please visit:


Written by Public Relations Student Assistant Lauren Chandler