Space Odyssey: A New Technology for Following Songbirds

… diaporama: where the Blackbirds go, on Spiegel Online International, by Christoph Seidler, Oct 22, 2016 (Photo Gallery): there are 1.6 billion songbirds in Europe and half of them fly south for the winter. Scientists would like to follow them – using sensors attached to the International Space Station. But keeping up isn’t easy [VIDEO].

… Researchers believe that blackbirds migrate individually, but because of the astounding paucity of data, they aren’t even sure about that. Larger birds like albatrosses or geese can easily be outfitted with GPS transmitters. But blackbirds, which only weigh around 100 grams, aren’t able to carry heavy technical equipment. That is why Wikelski’s team is using lighter radio transmitters — and, if they can get their equipment to work, chasing them with cars … //

… With a signal strength of just five milliwatts — wireless Internet routers are 20 times as powerful — the transmitters will broadcast on a frequency of 401 megahertz, which has been reserved around the world for the tagged animals. Because they are solar powered, scientists hope the transmitters will broadcast for several years, allowing them to document entire animal lifespans.

If the animals can be recaptured — and Wikelski believes it won’t be too difficult when it comes to blackbirds — the transmitters could theoretically be removed. That won’t, of course, be possible in all cases, but scientists say that the technology’s extremely light weight will ensure that the animals hardly notice it.

Observing migratory birds from orbit is one thing, but Wikelski and his team hope the system will be able to do much more than that — and that might be Icarus’ Achilles heel. The potential overly high hopes for the system might lead to disappointment.

Wikelski’s Career Depends on Icarus: … //

… It is a perfect night for flying. But an hour goes by, and then another, without any of the tagged birds taking off on their journey south. The scientists need to be patient. And they need warm clothing. The thermometer in the VW bus shows 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit), but because of an icy wind, it doesn’t even feel that warm.

High tones regularly peep out of the receiver speakers, incomprehensible for the uninitiated. Wikelski, Partecke and the rest of the team interpret the volume of such signals as an indication that none of the tagged birds has yet set off. At some point, the frozen team packs up their equipment and heads home.

The next morning, they realize they should have stayed just a bit longer. At exactly three minutes past midnight, their automatic data collection station recorded the first of the blackbirds departing Bodanrück for its winter quarters.

On the next clear autumn night, though, the scientists will be back, hoping to start the chase.

(full text, photos, video).


The Real Dangers of Nuclear War: Will the UN General Assembly Resolution to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons change anything before it is too late? on Global, by Carla Stea, Oct 25, 2016;

Putin’s Warning: There is no Instrument in International Law That Prevents the Occurrence of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) – Who Will Push the Button, on Global (first on Fort Russ, July 25, 2016), by President Vladimir Putin, Oct 26, 2016;

‘Reichsbürger’ Shooting: An Anti-Government Group Turns Violent, on Spiegel Online International, by Anna Clauß, Jan Friedmann, Dietmar Hipp, Martin Pirkl, Sven Röbel and David Walden, Oct 25, 2016 (Photo Gallery): after a series of increasingly violent encounters between German authorities and Reichsbürger, a group that rejects the legitimacy of the German government, officials are concerned that they are radicalizing — and turning from a nuisance into a threat;

Towards NAFTA-EU Economic Integration? Back-Door Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA) sets the Stage, on Global, by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Oct 19, 2016;

What the Grenada Revolution Can Teach Us About People’s Power, on teleSUR english, by Ajamu Nangwaya, Oct 19, 2016;

Warum Leipziger Linke ein Integrationsprojekt stoppten – naiver Plan, im Spiegel Online, von Laura Backes und Max Holscher, am 19. Okt 2016: das linke Kulturzentrum Conne Island in Leipzig wollte Flüchtlinge durch gemeinsames Feiern integrieren. Einige Frauen klagten über sexuelle Belästigung. Das Kollektiv wagte einen ungewöhnlichen Schritt …;
(siehe auch: Endlich verständlich:,Fakten zur Flüchtlingskrise, im Spiegel Online, aktualisiert am 25. Juli 2016;

… and this:

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