Okanagan Heritage Farm Using High-Tech Audio Device to Track and Record Birds | infonews

FILE PHOTO – Robin photographed by Lyn MacDonald.

Image credit: Lyn MacDonald

08 May 2022 – 15:32

A heritage farm in Keremeos monitors the birds that visit its site using a sophisticated audio recording device.

Chris Mathieson, general manager of the Grist Mill and Gardens Historic Site, said the team had started recording birdsong and hoped to install a live audio feed to track the birds in real time for visitors.

In early 2020, with the pandemic, they realized there might not be any visitors to the site, so they started thinking about virtual ways to connect with an audience.

This box analyzes more than 6,000 bird songs to determine the birds on the spot.

This box analyzes more than 6,000 bird songs to determine the birds on the spot.

Image credit: Chris Mathieson

“We had really good wifi set up throughout the heritage site and although we were using it for live video and stuff it was really cool we realized we could ‘use for other projects, like citizen science work,’ Mathieson said.

They have installed their own weather station and for the past month a small computer and audio device have been monitoring the birds.

The box uses artificial intelligence to determine which bird song is being heard, he said. It analyzes over 6,000 common bird songs to determine which songs are sung on the spot.

READ MORE: “The Early Bird Catches the Worm”, Look for These Birds Around the Thompson Okanagan

“We have a lot of people visiting the site who are interested in birds and I actually found a related app on my phone that dug (into the project),” he said.

In March, most blackbirds were recorded, but Eurasian collared doves, California quails and northern flickers were other popular birds that visited the site. The cedar waxwings also decided to nest in a tree where the recorder was placed, so for a week and a half all recordings were of the waxwings, he said.

Birds recorded for March 2022.

Birds recorded for March 2022.

Image credit: Chris Mathieson

“The big future goal is to add a second ultrasonic microphone because we could also use that to identify bats so we can find out what flies at night,” Mathieson said.


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