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Drones are for the Birds

Seriously, they are. Repurposed first-generation military drone technology as well as cheaper commerical devices are now being used for myriad scientific research projects, including bird studies.

I went to Colorado's beautiful San Luis Valley to report on a team of U.S. Geological Survey pilots and biologists from the Fish and Wildlife Service who are flying a small airplane drone called the Raven - once used to see enemy positons in Iraq and Afganistan - to monitor and count sandhill cranes.

My accompanying print story for the Science section delves into other ways that drones may be safer, cheaper and more accurate for a host of research missions.