Massachusetts Birds Database

The Digital Scholarship Group is collaborating with Jeff Da Costa, a BC professor of biology, on creating a database of Massachusetts birds in the form of 3D models. The intent is to give students greater access to bird specimens that can usually only be accessed in a lab.

The initial phase of the project involved testing several scanning modes, including photogrammetry, structured light, and infrared. In the end, the IR scanner proved to be the most accurate and reliable methodology for the particularities of avian morphology. This handheld scanner employs infrared light to map the surface geometry of an object in real-time while using an RGB sensor to capture texture data simultaneously. The process allows complete scans to be captured, processed, and rendered within two hours. The project’s next phase will be to scan the remainder of BC’s bird study collection and upload the models to Sketchfab, which will serve as the online repository for the scans. Sketchfab will allow students to interact with birds in a 3D space where they can examine plumage and anatomical structures from all angles, even projecting them into the real world through augmented reality.