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Robot Hummingbird Spies on 500 Million Monarch Butterflies

It’s difficult to spy on shy creatures in their natural habitats, whether it be in the deep sea, or in the trees. Now, however, thanks to animatronic drones and robots, people are able to safely infiltrate the private lives of wild animals. Below, for example, is a “Robot Spy Hummingbird” that recorded—up close and personal—a swarm of 500 million monarch butterflies.

The Robot Spy Hummingbird is just one of many “Spy Creatures” the UK-based company, John Downer Productions, has created. The production company specializes in making wildlife films like this one, and they all seem to capture an unprecedented intimacy. (The clip at bottom of otters, captured with an eagle spy camera, is not only intimate, but downright adorable.)

In the video, which is taken from the second episode of the series, Spy in the Wild, we watch as the robo-bird approaches a half-billion monarch butterflies spending the winter in Mexico. As the narrator—who is indeed David Tennant—notes, the monarchs don’t perceive the drone as a threat because both they, and hummingbirds, feed on nectar. Consequently, the avian spy is able to chill like a proverbial villain within inches of the delicate pollinators.

An animatronic hummingbird drone has captured 500 million monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico.

John Downer Productions

As far as the spectacle itself, watching millions of butterflies dance around in summer light from inside the swarm is quite a treat; especially as they warm to a critical 55 °F body temperature and begin to fly. Although, maybe a picture-in-picture setup would be optimal, because that hummingbird may be fake, but it’s real cute.

Anyone who wants to see more animals from a few inches away should check out Downer’s YouTube page. There are tons of other Spy Creatures, including turtles, owls, bats, and even bears. Be warned, however, that the video of the Robot Spy Seal does get gruesome once a Great White shark arrives.

Feature image: John Downer Productions