PIT bird tags avian products

Bird PIT Tags

Things used in this project

The Requirement

Our client is involved in a long-term study of the behaviour of small wild birds. To do this they needed to identify birds as they feed from a number of food stations located in the study area. Historically this was done using traditional printed plastic and metal rings fitted to the bird’s legs and data collection involved capturing birds and visually reading the bird’s ID and recording the data by writing in a book. Moving forward, the requirement was for a more efficient and automated recording of the Bird’s ID. The ideal technology for this was an RFID solution that could “read” a tagged birds ID as it fed from a particular bird feeder and store the date and time of this event.

The Challenge

The most feasible solution was to have an RFID PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag fitted to the Bird’s leg. The Bird feeders used in the study area initially incorporated a corresponding RFID Reader and data logging system with antenna mounted around the feeding apertures. As birds arrived at the Bird feeders their unique ID could then be read and the information stored in the data logging system. These initial Reader systems were based on “traditional” industrial RFID Reader solutions made up of several modular components connected together.

RFID tags for birds

These systems consumed high-current and relied on vehicle lead-acid type batteries as the power supply. Even with these large batteries, these initial systems would only run for a few days before the battery was flat. Generally these “industrial” Reader systems were expensive and complicated and were not suitable for the task. In addition, they suffered frequent physical damage to cables and antenna from Squirrels and rodents and overall, were unreliable, requiring constant maintenance and produced inconsistent results.

IB Technology designed a range of 2.2, 2.3, 2.6 and 7mm diameter moulded custom bird PIT tags with an integrated passive transponder. 125kHz “inductive” passive tag technology, based on an established and successful transponders type, was used to provide reliable and acceptable read ranges whilst allowing very small size and light weight essential for this solution. Working closely with our manufacturing partner, the design and choice of plastic and finish allowed ease of fitting without burrs or sharp edges – the welfare of the birds was paramount. Different colours were available for visual indication (Red/Yellow/Cyan) or neutral colours (Black/Grey) for birds prone to pecking the tags. IB Technology now supplies these Bird PIT tags to Zoology Departments and research establishments around the world.

14mm bird tag RFID

The RFID Reader and Data Logger solution

IB Technology has developed a unique low-cost and fully integrated RFID Reader and Data Logger for the Bird PIT tags. This can be used as a single, stand-alone “RFID Data Logger” board with one or two antenna connected to automatically read the PIT tag ID and store the information with real-time / date to a USB memory stick.

Alternatively the “RFID Data Logger” board is available fitted in a custom housing with an integral battery pack that can be fitted beneath the traditional and widely available Bird seed Feeders. The RFID Data logger board uses a multiplexing system to scan two independent antenna and innovative and programmable low-power techniques to allow the system to be battery-powered (using 6 x “C” cell or 6 X “AA” cell battery pack) providing long periods of use in the field before the batteries need to be changed.

The Reader is based on the IB Technology 125kHz RWD-EM4102 RFID Reader technology with programmable ON/OFF periods, dynamic polling and sleep features to stretch battery life to the maximum. The “RFID Data logger” can have one or two antenna connected to allow independent “reading zones”. These are external antenna coils connected via cables up to 2-metres long, for monitoring Nest box entrances for example (external loop antennas), or fixed to seed feeders (external rod antennas positioned just below the feeder perches to avoid Squirrel damage). The RFID Reader automatically scans the antenna (programmable polling rate from 500mS to several seconds) and reads the Birds ID whenever they come and go from the feeder perches or into the nest box. The RFID Data Logger has a built-in real-time clock (with battery back-up) and a socket for a standard USB memory stick. The PIT tag ID, antenna number, time and date information is stored in a standard file format on the USB memory stick that can be read by any laptop or PC.

RFID bird tags data logger

Hand Held LCD Reader for EM4102 cards and tags, designed to give optimum read range for a wide variety of tag packages from cards to Bird PIT tags. This battery-powered reader has a clear backlit LCD display and is ideal for reading tag ID in the field without any computer connected.

We now supply over 100 educational establishments worldwide including universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, Berkley, UC Davies, Nevada, William and Mary, Max Plank Institute, Antwerpen, Groningen, CNRS, Lyon, Bielefeld, Justus Liebig Giessen, Exeter, Reading, Leeds, Glasgow, Sterling, St Andrews, Utrecht, Ottawa and many more.

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