Robot twitcher hunts for the Elvis bird

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    Martin W

      Many moons ago, I used to envision a kind of robot birder that would stay at the Marine Drive, Scarborough, forever watching for passing seabirds (maybe relaying footage to my home – save me going out in gales!!) Now, something similar is in place in a US forest, watching for the extinct or extant Ivory-billed Woodpecker: known when alive as the Lord God Bird, but now dubbed as Elvis like.

      From the Times:

      The world’s first robotic twitcher has been deployed to one of America’s most inhospitable swamps to join the search for the holy grail of birdwatching: an iconic woodpecker so rare that it was thought to be extinct for more than half a century. The ivory-billed woodpecker, sometimes known as the Lord God bird because of its spectacular plumage, had last been spotted in 1944 before a possible sighting of a bird with its markings was reported in the Cache River national wildlife reserve, in Arkansas, in February 2004. A fleeting image of the bird was then captured on video, and ornithologists recorded its characteristic drumming sounds, prompting Frank Gill, of the Audubon Society, the leading American bird conservation group, to declare its rediscovery to be “kind of like finding Elvis.” …

      The robot is a sophisticated pair of smart video cameras, which point skyward, east and west, in the Big Woods region of Arkansas where it is hoped that the ivory bill survives. The cameras have software that activates only when the view overhead changes in a way that might be consistent with a bird in flight.

      Robot hunts ‘the Elvis of extinct birds’

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