To ID birds, try facial recognition | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


Screentime

To ID birds, try facial recognition

By
10:00am, June 28, 2014

SAY CHEESE  The Birdsnap program maps birds’ bodies to identify species, such as a bohemian waxwing shown, in photos taken from different angles.

Birding just got easier. No need to page through guidebooks looking for the mystery bird you just spotted — all you need is an iPhone and the new Birdsnap app, or a digital camera and computer. Snap a picture in the app or upload an image to the Birdsnap website, click on the bird’s eye and tail, then enter the location and date where the bird was found. Sophisticated algorithms detect parts of the bird, such as the beak and the belly, then maps the bird according to “a common coordinate system from which [Birdsnap] can extract features for the identification system,” explains one of Birdsnap’s creators, computer scientist Peter Belhumeur of Columbia University.

This is similar to how facial recognition systems map features such as the nose and eyebrows to identify people, even when they’re not facing a camera head-on. After a few seconds, Birdsnap gives the user its best guess of the bird’s species. Birdsnap currently lists only North

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content