Tag Data

Working with local tag data

Datasets will often reside on your local hard drive, either

  • managed by Firetail (using File > Download Movebank by...)
  • as in-field read-out from your tags
  • downloaded from Movebank

Firetail supports a range of file formats directly and can adapt to a wide range of data received from Movebank.

open local

All datatypes (see below) are accessible via the File > Open CSV... menu.

Note: If you fail to open your tag vendor with Firetail, do not hesitate and contact our support support@firetail.de

When selecting datasets you may also select multiple files at once (shift select). These datasets will be opened in one viewport.

Overview of supported data

Data Type origin contains common extension from FT Version
GPS Movebank lat/lon -gps.txt 1
ACC Movebank acceleration_x/y/z -acc.txt 8
Reference Data Movebank categorial/numeric -reference-data.csv 4
GPS e-obs lat/lon -gps.txt 1
ACC e-obs bursts -acc.txt 1
ECG e-obs - -ecg.txt 4
Magnetic e-obs - -mag.txt 3
Quaternion e-obs - -quat.txt 3
GPS Ornitela lat/lon via Movebank 5
ACC Ornitela gps-coupled/plain via Movebank 5
ACC Ornitela bursts Services 8
GPS Technosmart lat/lon .csv 5/9 (*1)
ACC Technosmart gps-coupled/bursts - 5/9
GPS Vectronic lat/lon via Movebank
ACC/Accessory Vectronic continuous acc data via Movebank
ACC Vectronic bursts Services 8
ACC Annotations Firetail tabular annotations2.csv 4
GPS Argos tabular .csv 9
GPS AWT (african wildlife tracking) tabular .csv, Services 9
  • (*1) Technosmart support for new tags was improved in version 9
  • contact us if your data should be supported, see Services


We provide data conversion services to adapt your tag data to Movebank/Firetail requirements. Firetail is subject of constant development, adding support for your tags may well be within scope for the next version!

Contact us! Full license holders will get detailed expert support to help you get most out of your data. Let us know in case your data does not work as expected

Burst type data vs. continuous recording

Burst data can be counterintuitive. We would like to clarify how burst recording works and how this affects the datasets you are working with.

Many high-res tags record sensor data at a fixed frequency starting at a given timestamp. We refer to this kind of data as burst-type format. In this regard a burst is a ordered set of samples captured for a given amount of time:

start timestamp sampling frequency axes burst data
17:08:13.000 40 XYZ recorded triplets

This example data has a fixed resolution, here 40Hz. This frequency is usually much higher than the GPS frequency (1Hz and below). By contrast, continuous formats commonly use a single line of data for each recorded value, which can result in data redundancy, in particular for Movebank downloads at the time of writing this documentation.

Few devices continuously record high-res data. When provided as accessory data, Firetail will convert this data to bursts, e.g. to enable acceleration annotation on the burst level.

Burst-type formats capture each burst as a single entry (line) in a csv. A header definition is required with at least the following fields to define each burst:

  • start-timestamp: burst starts here
  • acceleration-axes: one/two/three distinct characters (X, Y, Z) stating the the order of axes in the burst, usually X, XY or XYZ
  • acceleration-frequency-per-axis: frequency in Hz
  • accelerations-raw: consecutive singletons, 1-tuples, 2-tuples or triplets (depending on the type of acceleration axes)

The spacing of samples is uniquely given by the start timestamp and the axis frequency. To improve the overview when working with bursts, Firetail shows bursts consecutively without time gaps. The cursor will wait between non-consecutive bursts during replay.

Automated Burst Detection

Motivation: Firetail can efficiently handle acceleration burst data. FireSOM and manual annotation procedures benefit from a burst level perspective.

Therefore, Firetail features automated burst detection and conversion for continuously recorded events like Ornitela or Vectronic. In File > Settings > Import two parameters control the length of detected bursts:

  1. Minimum number of samples for detected bursts: filter all bursts that are shorter than the given amount of samples after detection (default 2).
  2. Maximim number of samples for detected bursts: split bursts that exceed the number of bursts after detection (default 80).

acc burst detection

The default settings depend on the source frequency, but may make sense for a wide range of data:

  • 1Hz data is split into chunks of 1 min 20 sec, singleton samples are filtered
  • 8Hz data is split into chunks of 10 sec, singleton samples are filtered
  • 40Hz data is split into chunks of 2 sec, singleton samples are filtered

Caveat: extreme settings may filter all bursts

These settings affect the import procedure, open data must be re-opened.

E-OBS Datasets

Tags by e-obs offer state-of-the-art solutions to animal tracking. Data gathered from these tags can be imported directly into Firetail using File > Open CSV Files.

E-obs and related modern tags feature a wide range of sensor data (see Event data) that Firetail can show fully synchronized.

Given data from an IMU (inertial measurement unit) is present, Firetail offers a visualization option to show the spatial orientation of the e-obs tracking device.

See also Acceleration Data.

Technosmart Datasets

Some of the most widespread Technosmart tags are supported in terms of acceleration and GPS and event data:

  • Axy-Trek
  • Axy-5

Ornitela Datasets

Firetail can handle Ornitela location data, acceleration data and events. Currently, the Onitela ‘SENSORS’ are not supported by Movebank (work in progress), yet Ornitela data can be loaded locally. Automated burst detection will apply.

Ornitela users can actively monitor their Movebank data feeds from within Firetail and benefit from retrieving the latest data as an iterative update.

Vectronic acceleration data

Vectronic binv2 is a closed standard and not directly supported in Firetail. A possible workflow to access Vectronic acceleration data from Movebank is to:

  1. Use the Vectronic Motion Data Monitor (MDM) to export csv data
  2. Use Movebank to create a custom upload of an accessory file using acceleration_x/y/z columns
    • block-wise correction artifacts in raw MDM data may require filtering duplicates
    • exported timestamps may vary with you LOCALE/language settings
  3. Upload the data along with existing GPS in your project
  4. Download the data from Firetail using Download Movebank by deployment/individual/tag

Please notify us, if this workflow does not produce expected results.

Loading Movebank CSV data

Movebank data can be imported directly via our API interface. Loading local CSVs is possible via File > Open Movebank CSV File.

See also: Movebank data

Previous downloads

Data that has been downloaded previously via the Movebank data can be accessed directly.

  1. Open File > Open Downloaded Data.
  2. Choose a dataset, hit OK

open downloaded

Note that to update your datasets, please use the Download Movebank by options. Previous datasets will use local data only