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I wonder if there is a really tiny GPS device that can be mounted on passerine birds (or circa 10 grams birds) without affecting their flight. This web site shows information for bat’s GPS. But it also only last for 24 hours. I wonder if there is some lightweight and long battery life about 2–5 grams. I found this also, but haven’t found if it contains a long battery life.

Is there a study on GPS tracking small birds?

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The technology is not there (yet) for deployments on 10 gram birds. The limits for GPS technology are around the 50 g range, for birds. Also bear in mind that the smallest loggers are generally not capable of transmitting, so you would need to recapture the animals to retrieve your data.

As your question implies, there is a strong trade-off between device weight and battery life. There are GPS devices weighing as little as 1 g, but their lifespan is very limited (10 fixes for the 1 g device; 50 for a 1.1 g device).

As a side note: your question implies that small passerines can carry 20 - 50 % of their body mass in tracker without their flight being affected. The ethics boards I am familiar with generally limit trackers to ~ 5 % of the mass of the animal.

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  • $\begingroup$ A quick search on Adafruit came up with this 8.5g GPS chip, but it's just the GPS, no battery and no transmitter. This solar panel might be their smallest, and might power the GPS, but also weighs 8g and likely couldn't power a transmitter. So after you add a battery and transmitter, is it ok to track how the birds crawl with 50g of stuff on their backs? $\endgroup$ – user137 Dec 31 '15 at 3:08

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