A different kind of tweet: red kites blog their travels
Right now, soaring high above the Scottish Highlands, are birds blogging about their travels, allowing scientists to piece together the story of the red kites' lives.
Right now, soaring high above the Scottish Highlands, are birds blogging about their travels. In a collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), several red kites have been fitted with a backpack that collects data about their flights, allowing scientists to piece together the story of their lives.
The backpacks are kitted out with a tag that transmits each red kite’s location to a satellite up to six times a day. Once researchers at the University of Aberdeen know where the birds have been, they can use other databases to find out extra information about the journey, such as weather conditions, habitat type and whether the bird was exploring a new area or simply revisiting old ground.
And here’s where the really clever bit begins. A computer program using a nifty technology called ‘Natural Language Generation’ takes all the numbers and facts and translates them into a blog, written in English, that makes perfect sense. The entire blog is created without the aid of any human.
However, this technology isn’t just about telling sky-high stories. In the 1940s the red kite was extinct in England and Scotland, and only a few pairs remained in Wales. Through conservation efforts over the past few decades, though, the red kite has been introduced back into many parts of the UK. These blogging birds can help conservationists learn how reintroduced red kites are taking to their new environment.
You can follow these majestic birds as they rediscover their old home by clicking here.