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Technology | ReCON™

Remote Condor Observation Network (ReCON™)

condor range map.

As the endangered California condor population increases, condors have been expanding their territory into southern California and Arizona to reoccupy more of their historic range. Because condor range expansion could one day lead to interactions with renewable energy facilities, planning has begun to address this concern.

What is ReCON?

Normandeau designed ReCON as an early detection system that provides energy facility operations centers with realtime alerts of an approaching condor. The condor recovery program tags individual birds using unique VHF transmitter frequencies to distinguish condors from other species. ReCON creates a detection perimeter around the energy facility that provides enough time to confirm condor presence and initiate a response, if needed, to avoid injury or mortality.

How it Works

A detection event occurs when a VHF-tagged condor enters the monitoring area. Each tag emits a unique radio frequency that is picked up by the ReCON receiver. A standard ReCON scans all possible VHF-tag frequencies every 2 minutes, providing the opportunity for all tagged condors to be detected if they come within range of a facility.

When ReCON detects a condor, the frequency is transmitted to a computer that sends out an alert with the tag number, date, time, antenna(s) that received thesignal, and the signal strength for each antenna. Signal strength is a rough indicator of proximity (i.e., stronger signal = closer), which provides some guidance on the location of the detected condor. All of this occurs within a few seconds of the detection.

The ReCON alert notifies the energy facility's operations center and any other designated parties. The response taken by the energy facility can vary, but options include deploying a field team to visually locate the condor and assess the level of risk or implementing a preset automated response to reduce the risk. As long as condor is within the range, ReCON will reissue alerts every 2 minutes.