Home Science news Birdwatching AI can recognise individual birds from behind

Birdwatching AI can recognise individual birds from behind


An important tit recognised by the AI

André Ferreira

Artificial intelligence has been educated to recognise individual birds, which is greater than we people are able to. The system is being developed for biologists finding out wild animals, however could possibly be tailored so that individuals can determine individual birds of their environment.

André Ferreira on the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in Montpellier, France, began the undertaking whereas finding out how individual sociable weavers contribute to their colonies. This is often accomplished by placing colored tags on their legs and sitting by nests to observe them, which could be very time-consuming. Ferreira tried filming the colonies as an alternative, however usually the colored tags weren’t seen within the footage, so he and his colleagues turned to AI.

The troublesome half is getting the photographs required to train the system. “We need thousands of pictures of the same individual,” says Ferreira. “With humans, this is easy. With animals, it is hard to do.” The group solved this downside by placing RFID tags on the birds, which triggered cameras at chicken feeders.


So far, the system has been examined on captive zebra finches, wild great tits and wild sociable weavers. Tests with pictures that weren’t used for coaching reveal its accuracy is round 90 per cent for a single picture.

For now, the system remains to be fairly restricted. It has solely been educated on footage of the again of birds, as that’s the view biologists normally get when observing behaviour. It may also fail if the looks of a chicken modifications, for example throughout moulting. “We don’t know exactly what the AI is using to identify birds,” says Ferreira.

However, he thinks all these points can be overcome if given large-enough datasets. Ferreira and his group at the moment are establishing cameras to take footage from a number of angles, not simply the again. The plan is to launch the software program for others to make use of as it’s additional developed.

There are already many AI-based apps accessible for figuring out fauna and flora from pictures or sounds, however these determine solely species, not people. Other groups are growing similar systems for identifying other animal individuals, says Ferreira, however that is the primary that can determine small birds individually as far he is aware of. These programs may allow biologists to check individual behaviour in methods which can be extraordinarily troublesome now, he says.

Journal reference: Methods in Ecology and Evolution, DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.13436

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