The GuardianThe Guardian

Can AI stop rare eagles flying into wind turbines in Germany?

By Philip Oltermann

20 Sep 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Learn how AI, bird conservation, renewable energy and ultimately, German politics, all come together in this interesting Guardian feature.

Small in size, sensitive of constitution and with only 130 breeding pairs surviving locally in the wild, the lesser spotted eagle of the Oder delta lives up to its name. In Germany, key questions over the country’s energy future hang on the question of whether artificial intelligence systems can do a better job of spotting the reclusive animal than birdwatchers do.

Lesser spotted eagles (named after the drop-shaped spots on their feathers) are fond of riding thermals over many of the flatlands earmarked for a mass expansion of onshore windfarms by a German government under pressure to compensate for a pending loss of nuclear power, coal plants and Russian gas.

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