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These falcons are monitored by intelligent nests

The Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a small falcon that can be found across the Mediterranean and south-central Asia. The bird is a summer migrant, wintering in Africa and Pakistan and sometimes even India and Iraq.

A number of Lesser Kestrel falcons are currently participating in HORUS, a real-time monitoring project headquartered at the Doñana Biological Station, a public Research Institute in Spain. According to Horus Project staff, the falcons breed in smart nest-boxes on the window sills which are equipped with sensors, cameras and other equipment controlled by an Arduino board.

“The [Arduino] board is based on Atmel’s ATmega2560, an economic, low-power and robust microcontroller. It controls and processes the nest’s sensor information,” the Horus Project researchers explained. “This board [links] with sensors and other components, processing the collected information sent to the process server over the communication interface.”

Specifically, the program implemented in the microcontroller performs the following tasks:

  • Links with the process server over a communication interface and synchronizes clock times.
  • Checks infra-red barriers. Each nest-box has two infra-red barriers at both extremes of the corridor. The sequence in which they are activated indicates whether birds are entering or leaving the nest-box.
  • Checks if the RFID reader has read a code from ringed kestrels.
  • Obtains the body mass measurement from a digital balance.
  • Monitors the temperature and humidity of the nest.
  • Controls the RFID reader to identify individuals.

Additional information about the Horus Project can be found on the official Facebook page or Wiki here.

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