High-speed imaging aids woodpecker hunt

AUGUST 28, 2008--Cornell University (Ithaca, NY, USA; www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory) staff created a virtual ivory bill to model the flight of the elusive bird, for comparison with brief film of the bird in flight.

AUGUST 28, 2008--A reported sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker--previously thought to be extinct--in 2004 has led to an effort to document its existence. So far, only some grainy footage has been captured, not conclusive evidence due to the possible confusion between the markings of the ivory-billed and the pileated woodpecker. Cornell University (Ithaca, NY, USA; www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory) staff created a virtual ivory bill to model the flight of the elusive bird, for comparison with brief film of the bird in flight. Researchers started with a simple virtual skeleton to give Cornell ornithologists a preview of what the simulators may create. They incorporated images from the only preserved ivory-billed woodpecker body in the world, using 400 CAT scans to create a detailed computer-generated bird. The team then used high-speed imaging of a pileated woodpecker in flight and fit the digital woodpecker to the movements of the pileated. It now appears the white wing patches on the computerized woodpecker flashed at the same time as the patches on the bird in the video, lending support to the ivory-billed woodpecker's existence.

For more information, go to http://spie.org/x26125.xml.

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