Birds are really, really cool — but besides that, they are also the biomimetic inspiration behind burgeoning technologies (here and here, for reference). Likewise, it’s about time technology was used to learn more about one of the most incredible raptors in the world: the American Kestrel.
Nu-Sun Cinema,a nonprofit in Winnipeg, Canada, educates people about wildlife. One current focus they have is the declining population of American Kestrel falcons, due in part to loss of natural habitat.
To help increase the population of these magnificent birds, Nu-Sun Cinema built custom nest boxes. Installing cameras inside the nest boxes would allow for conducting valuable research about breeding pairs and the rearing of their brood.
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Observing the falcons’ activities needs to be non-invasive, ensuring the least amount of disruption while providing the viewers the opportunity to collect data regarding their natural behavior. To meet this challenge, Nu-Sun Cinema chose four Vivotek IP surveillance camera solutions to monitor numerous breeding pairs of American Kestrel falcons.
Typically one egg is laid every second day with an average of 5-7 eggs in a clutch.
Knowing the exact number of eggs laid is an important element of study because it provides Nu-Sun Camera with insight about egg viability after hatching has completed.
The top-down view also provides an interesting perspective during incubation since eggs are rolled and placed in various formations by the adults.
Conversely, a camera installed inside the nest box on the side provides an up-close view of the adults as they incubate the eggs for approximately 26-32 days.
Nu-Sun Cinema installed two Vivotek FD8151V compact 1.3-megapixel fixed dome cameras on the inside and side wall of the nests. Throughout this period the temperature inside the nest box can fluctuate several degrees and this viewing advantage provides insight into how the adults control egg temperatures with the position of their body.
With built-in IR illumination, the FD8366-V delivers superior image quality for up to 15 meters in total darkness. This all-in-one camera meets a diverse array of needs for a multitude of outdoor surveillance applications.
The importance of technology to the study
With the help of the cameras, Nu-Sun Cinema will be able to identify the frequency and type of food being fed to the nestlings over the roughly 30-day nesting period. Then, as the nestlings develop, researchers will identify characteristics of their growth.
The combination of both cameras provides clear images of their feather development as well as gender markings and coloration.
Having cameras installed in nest boxes over the past seven years has allowed the organization to contribute important statistics toward conservation research about the successful fledging of 25 American Kestrels.