PixCams Bird Migration Station
Bird migration is the regular seasonal, large-scale, often long-distance movement between breeding and wintering grounds. Many species of bird migrate. Migration behavior is a critical indicator for evaluating environmental health. Scientists use a variety of methods to monitor bird migration, including satellite tracking, weather radar, moon-watching, or attaching geolocators on captured birds.
These methods are either expensive (e.g., satellite tracking), inaccurate because they are indirect (e.g., weather surveillance radars), labor intensive and error-prone (e.g., moon-watching), or intrusive (e.g., geolocators). Moreover, these techniques only crudely estimate the bulk density of migrating birds aloft.
The PixCams Live Bird Migration Station is a unique bird migration station that combines several types of technologies to study and watch the spring & fall bird migration in south western Pennsylvania. This migration station is located in Murrysville, PA and will run year round for collecting citizen science data. This station combines live streaming optical and thermal cameras, and a real-time bioacoustics for analyzing nocturnal flight calls (NFC’s).
PixCams Bird Migration System Diagram
Acoustic monitoring offers several advantages over other methods of monitoring populations because it allows us to identify the species. Other techniques, such as radar, can identify numbers of birds but lack the species information found in nocturnal calls.
The most widely used method of listening to and recording NFCs is the Pressure Zone microphone developed by Bill Evans from OldBird.org. A Pressure Zone microphone is a microphone element affixed to a plastic prism, which is then wrapped tightly in cling wrap and placed inside of a bucket. The physics behind this type of microphone is that is uses a boundary to amplify sound. The Pressure Zone microphone is considered superior to a parabolic microphone in NFC recording, because it collects sound from a larger area of the sky. A parabolic microphone affixed to the roof of a house would only be able to collect the NFCs in a small directional area of only of high flying birds, whereas a Pressure Zone microphone can collect sounds from birds that fly in a larger area and collect NFCs from low flying and high flying birds.
Old Bird Zone Microphone
The audio from the Old Bird Zone Microphone is then fed into the BirdNET-Pi system. The BirdNET-Pi is a real-time acoustic bird classification system using locally pre-trained machine learning model to classify the NFC bird calls in real-time. BirdNET-Pi was designed by Patrick McGuire. BirdNET-Pi converts the incoming audio data into Spectrograms that are analyzed through the BirdNET Neural Network for species identification. The BirdNET-Pi data is available to anyone in the above window or at this public domain: https://murrysvillenfc.birdnetpi.com/
PixCams Bird Migration Station
What sets the PixCams Bird Migration Station apart from other migration stations is combining the Bispectrum Thermal & Optical IP Camera. Since as migration usually occurs at night, the recorded videos inevitably contain substantial noise because of the low-light environment – the birds are generally invisible to the naked eye in the sky unless they pass in front of an illuminated object such as the moon. Depending on the species, migrating birds fly at altitudes ranging from several hundred feet to two miles.
Thermal cameras have a great advantage over other methods to see birds migrating at nighty because they detect temperature by recognizing and capturing different levels of infrared light. This light is invisible to the naked eye, but is easily seen by the heat given off by the heat signature of warm-blooded bird flying by. Thermal cameras can also pick up these heat signatures behind clouds.
The other advantage of a thermal camera is that thermal imaging allows us to obtain various migration parameters, such as migration intensity, direction and spatial arrangement of migrants.
Small flock of birds captured on thermal camera
In the past few years, scientists, citizen scientist, and many innovative individuals in the birding community have gained an unprecedented window into the phenomenon of nocturnal migration. The PixCams migration systems another innovative citizen science data collection system tool designed to gain knowledge of this phenomenon.
PixCams Migration Station Live Thermal/Optical Camera and Spectrogram
The PixCams Bird Migration Station website includes the live streaming optical & thermal cameras with the Old Bird NCF live audio. It also includes the embedded real-time acoustic analytics of the BirdNET-Pi software. By clicking on the “Spectrogram” tab you can watch the live spectrogram analyzing the NFC audio calls.