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Accepted Paper:

Night moves: Revealing cryptic birds through technology  
Andrew Whitehouse (University of Aberdeen)

Paper Short Abstract:

Scientific researchers and birders are interested in how cryptic birds can be revealed through technology. I consider two ways they do this, the passive recording of nocturnal bird migration and the use of thermal imagers, to examine the hidden aspects of place and environmental change revealed.

Paper Abstract:

Both scientific researchers and birders are interested in how normally cryptic birds can be revealed through technology. I consider two ways they do this, the passive recording of nocturnal bird migration and the use of thermal imagers, to examine the hidden aspects of place and environmental change revealed.

Nocturnal migration recording, or ‘nocmig’, involves passively recording bird calls as they pass overhead calling at night. Species and movements that would otherwise not be noticed are revealed through this practice, leading to new understandings of the status of species and the places and routes they use. Thermal imagers are used to reveal the presence of cryptic species that are normally hard to find because they are skulking and camouflaged. Knowledge of Jack Snipe, a wading bird normally almost impossible to see on the ground, has increased greatly through this practice. There is now a growing understanding of how they are affected by small changes in conditions and how they move around the landscape.

I argue that these technologically enhanced enquiries enable new appreciations of places that were otherwise familiar. Nocmig reveals the ecological significance of the night sky for migratory birds, indicating that birds rely on spaces well beyond their normal diurnal habitats. Uncovering cryptic birds through thermal imaging enables new kinds of intimate encounter that shift perceptions of habitat and behaviour at fine-grained scales. While both practices give fresh insights, this in turn leads to further puzzles that emerge in new gaps in knowledge.

Panel P196
Uncertain methods, elusive lives: exploring the methodological and relational horizons of doing research with more-than-humans
  Session 2 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -