The spy cam planted in the nest of a pair of bald eagles in the USA is quite popular around the globe. Not only it is fascinating to see how the mother bald eagle protects and nourishes her young ones in real time, it also allows the scientific community to assimilate a wealth of information about the behaviors of these animals.
The observation of their behaviors does not give enough data to construct any artificial nest. In a bid to collect more data, researchers from the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP), UK decided to collaborate with Microduino, a company that makes Arduino-compatible microcontrollers and modules.
The researchers wanted to create an electronic egg that could monitor the nests, but it was no walk in the park. This monitoring was only possible by using an egg that was similar to that of the vulture. Also, it had to entail enough sensor components to monitor and transmit all sorts of variables like nest’s internal temperature and the temperature gradient across its surface. It had to measure the barometric pressure, oxygen level, CO2 level, water content in the air, light intensity, and the egg’s rotation and movement. To top if off, it had to contain the capacity to operate and transmit without any human intervention for 70 straight days.
The data was transmitted using a terminal consisting of a Wi-Fi enabled Raspberry Pi, a Bluetooth module, clock, and weather station modules. This terminal was placed within Bluetooth range so it may not disturb the natural processes occurring inside the nest. Raspberry Pi was used to store the data from the egg, connect all the modules, and upload data to a cloud server.
As there were three eggs in the nest, each egg had its digital ID. The data collected by the artificial egg was then used to construct a 3D model of the temperature gradient in real time.
These eggs will also be planted in many areas across Africa and India. Vultures are depleting quite fast because of a drug that is used to treat cattle. This drug is poisoning them in huge numbers. The eggs are planned to be placed with three critically-endangered vulture species: the Oriental White-backed Vulture, the Long-billed Vulture, and the Slender Billed Vulture.
This technology can give a new method to scientists for collecting and applying more accurate and practical data that might help the endangered species of animals.
You can see a video of a vulture with an EggDuino in its nest below. It rolls the egg and treats it just like a real egg.
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