April 2, 2015
Journal Article

Classification of Birds and Bats Using Flight Tracks


Classification of birds and bats that use areas targeted for offshore wind farm development and the inference of their behavior is essential to evaluating the potential effects of development. The current approach to assessing the number and distribution of birds at sea involves transect surveys using trained individuals in boats or airplanes or using high-resolution imagery. These approaches are costly and have safety concerns. Based on a limited annotated library extracted from a single-camera thermal video, we provide a framework for building models that classify birds and bats and their associated behaviors. As an example, we developed a discriminant model for theoretical flight paths and applied it to data (N = 64 tracks) extracted from 5-min video clips. The agreement between model- and observer-classified path types was initially only 41%, but it increased to 73% when small-scale jitter was censored and path types were combined. Classification of 46 tracks of bats, swallows, gulls, and terns on average was 82% accurate, based on a jackknife cross-validation. Model classification of bats and terns (N = 4 and 2, respectively) was 94% and 91% correct, respectively; however, the variance associated with the tracks from these targets is poorly estimated. Model classification of gulls and swallows (N = 18) was on average 73% and 85% correct, respectively. The models developed here should be considered preliminary because they are based on a small data set both in terms of the numbers of species and the identified flight tracks. Future classification models would be greatly improved by including a measure of distance between the camera and the target.

Revised: July 29, 2015 | Published: April 2, 2015


Cullinan V.I., S. Matzner, and C.A. Duberstein. 2015. Classification of Birds and Bats Using Flight Tracks. Journal of Field Ornithology 27. PNNL-SA-105515. doi:10.1016/j.ecoinf.2015.03.004