University of Adelaide

Drones best humans at birdwatching

Scientists have pitted humans against drones in an epic test of birdwatching—and the drones have come out on top, WIRED reports. Seasoned birdwatchers were asked to count thousands of fake plastic terns spread out on a beach in south Australia, from a distance typical for birdwatching. At the same time, scientists flew a drone overhead to take pictures. People with little birdwatching experience were asked to count the birds in the photos—and they were considerably better than the experts on the ground. So was an algorithm trained to identify the birds. Writing in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, the authors say that drones could allow ecologists to survey wildlife populations without disturbing sensitive breeding sites

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