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RFID for more efficient monitoring of the feeding of wild birds

October 18th, 2018 Recently in Spain, the local agency entrusted with protection of the wild vultures had a problem with the monitoring of the birds’ population in a very specific nature reserve.  

Traditionally, they had been monitoring the vulture population by banding the birds with leg rings with numbers or printed barcodes. However, it proved very difficult to read them by any means. Using personnel on the spot or trying to read the barcodes at a distance, even with high-technology vision equipment, resulted in insufficient accuracy, and hence the project was at risk of not being feasible.  

After studying the various possible solutions, they discarded the idea of GPS rings, as their cost would have been too high for the agency’s budget. Ultimately, the solution came from the RFID side. They decided to build a special 16–m² cage, where food for the vultures would be placed. The birds needed to pass through a 2–m cage tunnel in order to reach the food located on top of an otherwise unreachable hill. Each vulture was marked with an RFID reading and recording tag. The food cage itself was equipped with the 4-antenna IMPINJ UHF Speedway solution. The RAIN RFID readers installed over transition points, such as doorways or pass-through areas, can read and record tags, allowing users to deliver key metrics to the management team. “No other system has proven so efficient in relation to its cost. Now we can determine with absolute reliability the number of birds that inhabit this area, as well as their needs and specific feeding habits", says the head of the local nature protection agency.  

This high-performance fixed reader was able to automatically optimise operation within that environment, letting the agents monitor, with extreme accuracy, the number or birds stopping by for food, as well as the number of times each vulture would approach the cage to get fed. Thus, the population could be tracked and traced in a very easy way. In addition, the cage system was connected via Ethernet to a PC that could reach the agency headquarters via 3G connectivity. This solution made it very easy for the agents to get the entire track and trace information without having to personally visit the area where the birds were living free.  

Since the installation of the pilot cage, the agency has been able to follow the daily lives of hundreds of vultures, and to optimise their resources to monitor the wild fauna in that area. This project is a good example for a perfect solution for reaching difficult areas and getting good data accuracy with RFID and 3G connectivity. 

BlueStar helps its resellers to identify new market niches, as well as to step into innovative projects to offer solutions in extreme difficult environments: RFID track-and-trace solutions open a wide range of market opportunities. BlueStar is at the cutting edge of technology with leading suppliers like IMPINJ for nearly all market segments to provide the ultimate solutions in RFID. These solutions are suitable also for the needs in all commercial market segments, e.g. Retail, Supply Chain and Logistics, Industrial Manufacturing, Hospitality, Food and Beverage.

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