Artificial intelligence can now correctly identify bird species

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Posted on: July 28, 2020 6:05 am EDT

A new AI tool can easily distinguish different types of birds with 92% accuracy

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to deliver surprising applications, and this latest one stands out because of what it could do for conservation efforts. A brand-new facial recognition feature powered by AI was created to identify the different bird species out there and even tell individual birds apart, which is a near-impossible task for humans. This new software reports a whopping 92% accuracy that can bring more than one benefit to conservationists, as it could also mean that there will be no need to place monitoring devices on these animals for tracking – it is known to be stressful for the birds and other animals.

This is the first time a computer gets trained to recognize birds. It uses very similar technology to the one social media sites have implemented to remember faces. Companies like Facebook have millions of pictures of different people who were tagged by other users in a voluntary way, so these labels facilitate the process of recognizing a person. However, having a labeled photograph of a bird is quite hard, so this process has been the bottleneck of further research for years.

An international team was able to find a solution by building feeders with camera traps and sensors. “We show computers can consistently recognise dozens of individual birds – even though we cannot ourselves tell them apart,” said lead author Dr. Andre Ferreira. “In doing so, our study provides the means of overcoming one of the greatest limitations in the study of wild birds – reliably recognising individuals.”

Bird populations are dealing with several environmental factors that are putting extra pressure, such as climate change, intensive farming and deforestation. Global warming has already taken a toll on several species, increasing the risk of extinction for some of them.