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AI software which recognises individual birds could boost conservation efforts, researchers say

Birds could be spared the stressful process of identification tagging after researchers developed facial recognition software which can recognise individual birds, something humans are unable to do. This is thanks to a technique known as deep learning which specialises in classifying images.

The artificial intelligence tool has an accuracy of up to 92 per cent and could boost conservation efforts by “revolutionising” the identification process. 

The study, published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, involved collecting thousands of labelled images of birds. They included wild great tits, sociable weavers and captive zebra finches - among the most studied animals in nature.

They then trained a computer model to recognise dozens of individual birds. After programming, the programme successfully identified over 90

Great tit

of great tits and sociable weavers and 87 per cent of captive zebra finches.

Dr Ferreira, of the University of Montpelier, France, and lead author said: "Deep learning has the potential to revolutionise the way researchers identify individuals.

"To our knowledge, this is the first successful attempt at performing such an individual recognition in small birds."

Dr Ferreira added: "The development of methods for automatic, non-invasive identification of animals completely unmarked and unmanipulated by researchers represents a major breakthrough in this research field.”


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