Part of the enjoyment in birding includes directly experiencing nature, taking your time, breathing, listening, watching each rustle in the trees, and listening some more. Part of the limitations, however, might be that you only can experience your back yard, you don’t have enough financial resources to travel around the world chasing exotic species, or you just don’t have enough time to escape the real world long enough to enjoy the birds.
From an environmental scientists’ perspective, a significant limitation to monitoring the long-term bird activities and population in an extended area is the extensive people-hours required in waiting around to breath, listen, watch each rustle in the the trees, and then listening some more.
Some of these limitations can now be removed with a little creative technology in imaging and Internet-based process control with a new system referred to as a Networked Tele-Robotic Observatory Game. The new citizen science program located in southern Texas is the result of a collaborative effort between the Welder Wildlife Foundation, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Texas A&M’s Prof. Dezhen Song, UC Berkeley’s Prof. Ken Goldberg, and the National Science Foundation.
Visit the CONE (“Collaborative Observatories for Natural Environments”) site linked below, and within minutes you can be taking live images of birds enjoying the day at Welder. All you need is an email address, and it would be highly appropriate to watch the video tutorials before taking over the remote camera control from the other participants.
“Virtual birding available at Welder Wildlife refuge” :: Victoria Advocate :: May 28, 2010 :: [READ with video]
DPR is very excited about this remote laboratory project, and will be including it in our official recommendations of eLabs for Citizen Scientists. If you spend some time with CONE at Welder, or are aware of other similar virtual laboratory opportunities, please let us know so that we may all learn from your experiences.