RSPB Scotland Youth Officer, Nicole Brandon, tells us about an innovative partnership project that allows birds to tell their own story.
Blogging birds could use your help!
Which new online initiative has been reported on in Wired, in New Scientist, and in The Irish Times?
What cutting-edge new website was featured on BBC Radio Scotland's Out of Doors and has been a featured video segment with AOL on?
Why it's the RSPB partnership project - Blogging Birds! Alongside our colleagues at the University of Aberdeen, and with the support of digital economy hub dot.rural, RSPB staff and resources have been busy creating one of the world's first ever wildlife blogs that is written without the input of a human! Read the latest blog from one-year old red kite, Millie:
September 2nd to September 8th: Millie's Blog
This week Millie was active. She predominantly flew between Errogie and Easter Aberchalder. Millie's foraging patterns during this week have been varied. Millie was seen together with kite Moray. Monday to Wednesday Millie spent most of her time around Errogie and Easter Aberchalder. During this time she was seen mainly on bog while making occasional journeys to moorland. On Thursday afternoon she was observed in heather close to Loch Killin outside her home range perhaps feeding on voles. The next 3 days Millie spent most of her time around Errogie. During this time she was seen mainly on acid grassland while making odd journeys to moorland. Acid grassland is generally a species poor habitat. However there must be enough worms and insects for Millie to feed on. Will Millie continue exploring the same area next week as well?
What a neat read! And this was all generated by computers and specialist software using data from RSPB's satellite tagging of Millie and three other red kites. No editing after the fact by human hands or minds involved! You can read blogs from each of the four blogging red kites, new each week.
As for how this is possible: RSPB staff fitted red kites with satellite transmitters while the University of Aberdeen team analysed the red kite movement patterns and created this revolutionary software. The University of Aberdeen line-up was an unusual mix of computing scientists and ecologists. This Aberdeen team worked to get the satellite data from the red kites processed via Natural Language Generation to produce readable and exciting blogs which enable humans to understand what the birds' behaviours tell us - in plain english! For more reporting on this extraordinary new means of connecting people to nature, please click on the video here.
But, just because Wyvis, Moray, Millie and Ussie can blog without us each day, doesn't mean they don't need our help to get their website up to scratch! The project team for Blogging Birds has requested feedback from anybody who uses the site through their site survey. This is to help them improve the experience of the humans reading it and to get the message of the red kites' blogs across with the best clarity.
Blogging Birds has already recieved formative help from several Aberdeenshire RSPB Wildlife Explorer groups, and the RSPB's Phoenix members on Facebook. Now they're asking for even more people, especially young people under 19 years old, to take a look at the site and please feedback about what you liked, didn't like and would like to see on Blogging Birds. All feedback is welcome, but they especially want to hear from young people, as they are very keen for these blogs to be fun and beneficial to everybody.
So, if you're under 19 years old and reading this, please do head on over and explore at Blogging Birds! If you're a bit older, please also do the same, and see if you can't find a young person you know to show this article and Blogging Birds to. See if you, and people in your life, can help this outstanding and innovative project become an even better bridge between people and nature.
Thank you, all! That's it from me for now.
Though maybe some day they'll fit me with a satellite tag and you'll be able to follow me on 'Blogging Youth Officer!'....
Photo by Ben Hall