Hummingbird drone

The hummingbird drone created in 2020 by Phil Dalton of John Downer Productions, based in the UK, is intended not to better monitor hummingbirds, but monarch butterflies. The nectar-feeding hummingbirds are not perceived as a threat by monarch butterflies, so the hummingbird drone can get incredibly close to one, or even thousands of butterflies in their migratory winter ground in the forests of the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico. Dalton specializes in creating recording devices for nature documentaries; the speed and agility of the hummingbirds, along with their non-confrontational relationship with the butterflies, made the design choice an easy one. The drone weighs 2.5 ounces and is only 8 inches (20 centimetres) end to end, and the small propellers mounted on its wings are covered in a fine mesh, eliminating the possibility of harm if a butterfly decides to rest on the hummingbird. The 4K cameras installed in the hummingbirds head allow for incredibly close and detailed views of migrated butterflies clustered on the branches of trees, to which monarchs of each generation flock. The result is a breathtaking video of individual butterflies, which is meant to inspire awe and a strong desire to protect these endangered species and their shrinking habitats. The downside of allowing such an intimate view could potentially be an influx of tourists or voyeurs flocking to the Sierra Madre mountains to see the butterflies. Such behaviour would be disruptive to the butterflies, already seeing worrying drops in their winter populations.

Dawood, Usman. “Drone Disguised as Hummingbird Captures Incredible Footage of Monarch Butterfly Swarm.


Artificial Life, Ecological Monitoring, Monitoring, Visual Technologies