Archive for the ‘ornithology’ tag

The Latest Underrepresented Voices in Science: Female Songbirds

By January 12th, 2018 at 11:09 am | Comment

Female Troupial, Photo Credit: Dr. Karan Odom

By: Julia Travers

Songbirds may be nature’s pop stars, but the females are still waiting for a turn in the spotlight — we don’t even know if females sing in about 70 percent of songbird species. This is because the study of birds has a gender gap: most previous research has focused on male song. Participants in the Female Bird Song Project are looking to right this imbalance.

“I think this is a very important project. It involves citizen science in gathering fundamental information about the behavioral diversity of birds,” says evolutionary ornithologist Richard Prum of Yale University. Researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Leiden University call on birders to contribute videos, photos, sound clips and field notes of female bird songs so they can better understand the evolution and role of this expressive behavior. Their research already revealed that female birds have most likely been singing for tens of millions of years. Read the rest of this entry »

Conversations about conservation: public participation in scientific research

By April 14th, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Comment 1


Energy is a strange thing.  It floats around you, fills you up until you’re about ready to burst, and then it skips off, leaving you to keep up as best you can.  Last Thursday and Friday were two full days of such energy, when 60 professionals from such exotic places as Alaska, Colombia and New Jersey got together to discuss why and how public participation in scientific research (PPSR) is necessary if we are to save the world’s biodiversity.  The amazing thing about this workshop wasn’t so much that these people had a similar goal (after all, who doesn’t want to save the world?), but rather that the participants brought such a diversity of backgrounds, academic disciplines and institutions to the table.

Although the participation of citizens in scientific research goes back centuries, it is only very recently that there has been a push and pull from many different areas, leading to an amazing expansion of this kind of research and a demand for new ideas, ways to engage, and methods to understand how and why this can ultimately lead us forward in conservation.  The 50+ projects that were represented during this workshop illustrated this expansion not only by what they had in common – citizen engagement, data collection, and links to better conservation management – but also by what they didn’t.  While some projects, like FrogWatch USA or Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, invite participants from across the United States to collect data on a wide geographical scale, other projects such as Ndee bini’ bida’ilzaahi (Pictures of Apache Land) and the Fresno Bird Count are place-specific, uniquely adapted to the needs of their local community and natural environment. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Rachel Maddow a citizen scientist?

By August 5th, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Comment

On the list of reasons to watch The Rachel Maddow Show, one wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find “lessons in ornithology” near the top. Well, after Monday night’s show, that’s exactly what viewers got!

In the video clip below, Maddow explains how she was recently walking her dog in a western Massachusetts forest when she heard a bird song that she didn’t recognize. She immediately whipped out her smartphone and recorded part of the song. She then played the song on the air and challenged her audience to identify the bird.

(Ten points if you can correctly guess the bird before reading the rest of this blog post!)

Over the next day, hundreds of people provided their answers on the Maddow Blog and the show’s Facebook Fan Page. Many of the answers seemed reasonable (e.g., a chickadee), while others were wildly ridiculous (e.g., “her Blackberry running low on batteries”) or simply too offensive for me to repeat in a public forum.

Read the rest of this entry »

An introduction to bird watching.

By February 4th, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Comment

New to bird watching? Professor Stuart Pimm talks us through the basics in this video. Many bird watchers share their observations with researchers in an effort to learn about and protect these  little critters that are so important to our ecology.  If you’re interested in getting involved in bird watching to help science, you’ll find plenty of citizen science ornithology opportunities using our Project Finder tool.