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Eavesdropping technology helps protect endangered birds

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published 2 weeks ago - Duration: 01:24s

Eavesdropping technology helps protect endangered birds

'Eavesdropping' technology and artificial intelligence has helped scientists listen in on an endangered bird population in a remote part of New Zealand.

Ella Wilks-Haper reports.

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Eavesdropping technology helps protect endangered birds

The hihi bird is making a comeback - we've heard it.

Driven almost to extinction in its native New Zealand - the bird was the subject of a relocation and breeding programme.

And thanks to remote recording equipment and artificial intelligence we know they're happy in their new home.

OLIVER METCALF, CONSERVATION SCIENCE MASTERS STUDENT, ZSL SAYING: "We found that after a month they settled down into areas that they really preferred being in which were areas close to water which is a really good indication that the hihis are happy with their new site." A happy hihi sounds like two marbles clanging together and it appears this joyful call is spreading as populations have recovered significantly since 2004 OLIVER METCALF, CONSERVATION SCIENCE MASTERS STUDENT, ZSL SAYING: "Imagine we collected over a terabyte of data, that's way too much for me to listen to.

So we developed an algorithm which recognised the hihi call amongst all of that data.

Then we worked out where they were calling more often and then we produced a model which hadn't been used in this way before to work out how there they were was changing over time." Now scientists say the calls are heard in settled positions - rather than their initial random distribution - marking the hihi reintroduction a success.

With promising results in New Zealand, Metcalf is set to see how AI can be applied to other reintroduction programmes further afield.

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