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Source: Wikicommons

Scientists Are Using Drones To Track These Critically Endangered Parrots

By Kristin Hunt

Swift parrots aren’t easy to track. These bright green birds don’t like to sit still, frequently hopping from tree to tree across the Tasmanian wilderness. And if you startle them, good luck catching up. The swift parrot is known for its fast flight speeds, clocking up to 55 mph.

But conservationists need to keep tabs on these critically endangered parrots, whose numbers have dwindled to less than 1,000 pairs. So they’re bringing in robotic assistance. Scientists believe drones can help them track and protect the remaining swift parrots in the wild, and they’re already seeing some success with this tech, according to a new study.

As Forbes reports, Australian researchers conducted eight trails to see if the drones could locate radio-tagged swift parrots. Six times, the drones estimated the bird’s coordinates within 164 feet of its true location. The robo aircrafts were quicker and more efficient than the human trackers in these experiments, losing sight of the target only twice. The results “provide validation” for drone wildlife tracking, the team concludes in the study, which was published last month in Science Robotics.