Taking Wildlife Biology to the Skies

On the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, we have a lot of birds, and a lot of those birds love to nest here. The folks located over in the Engineering and Biology department of Weber State University are curious about those nesting birds,  in particular the White Faced ibis and Franklin's Gull colonies located on unit 3B. They are so interested in these bird's nests that they decided to conduct a study looking at their frequency and location on the islands scattered about in the 3b unit, which are surrounded by a lake of no more then 2-3 feet.

The way the Weber State scientists see it, if you want to understand a bird, you have to become the bird. In order to get a good accurate visual of the nests located on the scattered islands, the use of a small radio controlled plan was brought in, which is where the Engineer scientists are involved. They mounted a high definition camera on the bottom side of a Styrofoam 3 foot wing span plane, and set it off in the refuge's skies to record as much detail on the nests as possible.

It was very interesting working with these professors and scientists, and exchanging stories, ideas, and aspirations in relationship to what they were doing and wildlife. "It's great to be doing this", one of the team members told me, "We love using this technology for good. So often these planes and techniques are used in military operations. I'm glad we could use this power to help the environment." Indeed, being trained in wildlife biology for the last four years of college has involved a lot of hands on work directly with nature, and it was eyeopening to see how engineering and technology such as this could go hand in hand with understanding wildlife.

The Crew


Take Off

Nesting Colonies

In Flight

Plane Recovery team