Bird nests equipped with cameras, sensors and a computer allow ornithologists and bird lovers in the Czech Republic to track the behavior of endangered species and local wildlife. Sharon Reich reports.
This Czech family are setting up a secret recording system to watch guests movements when they visit their home. But the Stovicek's are not peeping toms … they're bird lovers, using the latest technology to understand more about the little creatures. (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) AMATEUR ORNITHOLOGIST, MILAN STOVICEK, SAYING: "I think this is a very interesting activity for our family when we can all see the birds arriving in the nest from the window." The Stovicek's installed a device called the Smart Bird Box. It's a high tech nest developed by ornithologists in the Czech Republic to help researchers monitor the lives of endangered birds in unparalleled detail. (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) SCIENTIST, MARKETA ZARYBNICKA, SAYING: "It contains one or two cameras, a computer, an indoor and outdoor temperature sensor, a light intensity sensor and a microphone. The whole system is activated with an "optical gate" (motion sensor for capturing the bird's presence) which is placed at the entrance hole." The team at Prague's Czech University of Life Sciences are currently using the Smart Bird Box in a forest on the German border to study patterns of the endangered Tengmalm's owl. And at this school in Prague, school children are watching activity of a bird box in the yard to learn more about the local birds. IT designer Pavel Junek says the box is unique in that it is able to store data so activity can be compared during different time periods. (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) IT DESIGNER RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TECHNOLOGY, PAVEL JUNEK, SAYING: "You can click on the nests marked green on the screen and you can see online what's happening there live. On the other nests you can look at the historical files, which are recorded daily. So whenever something happens inside the nest a short video is recorded and this is then recorded on the server." Researchers hope that getting a glimpse inside the nest will help inspire a new generation of ornithologists.