The Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a small falcon that can be found across the Mediterranean and south-central Asia. The bird is a summer migrant, wintering in Africa and Pakistan and sometimes even India and Iraq.
A number of Lesser Kestrel falcons are currently participating in HORUS, a real-time monitoring project headquartered at the Doñana Biological Station, a public Research Institute in Spain. According to Horus Project staff, the falcons breed in smart nest-boxes on the window sills which are equipped with sensors, cameras and other equipment controlled by an Arduino board.
“The [Arduino] board is based on Atmel’s ATmega2560, an economic, low-power and robust microcontroller. It controls and processes the nest’s sensor information,” the Horus Project researchers explained. “This board [links] with sensors and other components, processing the collected information sent to the process server over the communication interface.”
Specifically, the program implemented in the microcontroller performs the following tasks:
- Links with the process server over a communication interface and synchronizes clock times.
- Checks infra-red barriers. Each nest-box has two infra-red barriers at both extremes of the corridor. The sequence in which they are activated indicates whether birds are entering or leaving the nest-box.
- Checks if the RFID reader has read a code from ringed kestrels.
- Obtains the body mass measurement from a digital balance.
- Monitors the temperature and humidity of the nest.
- Controls the RFID reader to identify individuals.