Monday, April 23, 2012

First House Wrens!

Today, I recorded seven Bewick's Wrens and my first two House Wrens! Pretty exciting stuff. I also saw Blue-grey Gnatcatchers, Yellow Warblers, Chipping Sparrows, Pacific-slope Flycatchers and many, many other birds. I was in the field for about five hours and after driving and putting in a little time at work...I'm ready for my day to end! Hope you all are enjoying some sunshine and getting to see some amazing birds!

Friday, April 20, 2012

American Indian Identities

This term, I decided to take a break from Biology classes (and have no more Education classes). Delightfully, I found a class called American Indian Identities, taught by the new professor in Native American Studies at SOU. Our first paper gave me plenty to think about, starting with the Boy Scouts of America. I have nothing against the idea of getting youth involved in "back to the land" type learning, in learning about American Indians or about community service. I do, however, represent many things BSA directly oppose. I am pagan, queer and female. Thus BSA and I do not see eye-to-eye on many issues. Additionally, false assumptions, generalizations and improper contextualization of American Indians provide the basis for much of the infrastructure of BSA. While I admire BSA for attempting to honor natives, I think they fall short, particularly since BSA refers to American Indians in the past in most instances. That being said, I do not blame scout members for any of this. These issues are built into BSA and as such are the responsibility of adults affiliated with BSA to change (or a really inspired scout member). Without further ado, here is the paper:

Boy Scouts, Winnemem Wintu and Public Support for Non-natives While Oppressing Unrecognized Tribes

            My research for this project started with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). A history of native appropriations exists in the BSA, indeed the progenitor organizations for BSA all based their structure and activities on romanticized ideas of Native Americans. The Indian Lore merit badge continues to be the most popular merit badge, requiring scouts to learn about a local tribe. Order of the Arrow (OA), the BSA honor society, reports a background based in Native American traditions. Additionally, many scout camps are referred to as “reservations.” Lastly, the Tulsa Council from Oklahoma was renamed the Indian Nations Council some time after 1911.
While BSA works with the American Indian Scouting Association (AISA), to support inclusion of American Indian youth and teach about native traditions, many BSA activities seem inherently racist. On the BSA website, I found a brochure about increasing ethnic diversity in BSA. This brochure included suggestions for increasing African American, Asian American and Hispanic or Latin American participation but does not mention American Indians; the peoples reportedly inspiring the organization of the BSA. Finally, H.R. 131 passed in the House of Representatives in September 2009. This bill transferred 140 acres of land in the Ouachita National Forest to the BSA Indian Nations Council in Oklahoma (Congressional Research Service 2009). This bill never passed in the Senate, “dying” in late 2009 or early 2010.
This overwhelming public support for BSA and BSA activities weighed heavily on my mind as I attended a fundraiser and fun-run for the Winnemem Wintu, a federally unrecognized tribe from the McCloud River in northern California. Friday night, the pre-race event included a 20-minute clip of the “Dancing Salmon Home” documentary the Winnemem have been working on for a few years. The Thundering Moccasins Dance Troup performed and Winnemem Chief Caleen Sisk spoke about the tribes’ efforts to bring the McCloud River Salmon back to the McCloud River, about scientists disregarding thousands of years of native inquiry, investigation and discovery and about the Shasta Dam.
As the Winnemem struggle for federal recognition, their ancestral lands and sacred sites are threatened with further flooding. The US Army Corps of Engineers wants to raise the Shasta Damn another 18ft, raising the level of the lake by 60 ft. In direct violation of a treaty (never ratified) from the late 1800s, the Winnemem never received “in kind” lands to replace lands flooded by the Shasta Dam. Despite their removal from traditional lands and the aquatic burial of sacred sites, the Winnemem maintain traditional ceremonies and visit and, when water levels allow, attend to their sacred sites.
Because they are unrecognized, the Winnemem have no federal rights to negotiations to preserve their sacred sites, to conduct their sacred ceremonies or to protect the spring on Mt. Shasta from which they originated. Their unrecognized status allows the US Forest Service to continue refusing to close down 300 yards of Lake Shasta (the McCloud River arm) for the Winnemem’s puberty ceremony. Despite the federal government’s efforts to assimilate the Winnemem Wintu into the dominant culture, the Winnemem remain a distinct culture with ties to their ancestral lands, language and customs.
            The glaring discrepancies between how BSA and the Winnemem are treated can be attributed, I believe, to a number of factors. Primarily, the dominant culture’s belief that American Indians no longer exist, or worse that American Indians should just assimilate and get over the injustices that have occurred and continue to occur. In addition, the belief held by Western scientists and historians that American Indians do not have a strong connection to their history (Smith 2002) or to “real” Indian culture furthers the idea that something more than genetics determines Indianness an that the dominant culture knows what that “something” is. Concerns about appropriations, misrepresentation and injustices are easily dismissed under this paradigm. Thus, it is not shocking when members of the BSA claim that they are honoring natives by dressing in headdresses, or claiming they provide a vital connection to art, language and cultural histories of American Indian tribes (implying that tribes need outsiders to maintain their traditions).
Another key factor in public support of non-Indian organizations, such as BSA, over un-recognized tribes is the continual effort of the government and “white America” to romanticize Indians and to gloss over the wrongs that have been committed. To support an organization that romanticizes natives and their traditions, and encourages non-native connections to such things allows non-natives to continue owning and controlling Indianness. If the dominant culture continues to determine what it means to be Indian it remains easy to continue to oppress and colonize. Owning Indianness, native cultures, traditions and ceremonies is the goal.
Finally, giving up land to the Winnemem, or closing part of Lake Shasta for the four-day ceremony, forces non-Indians to acknowledge that there were people here before the fish hatcheries, dams and gold claims. The Winnemem have a connection to the land, their ancestors and ancestral homelands that most non-Indians do not. All of these things cause discomfort in the psyche of non-Indians, which can then translate into racism, exclusion and oppression. The BSA as an organization allows “white America” to remain in control of culture and of land. “Everyone” is allowed in BSA, thus giving up federal lands and public support is good for “everyone.”
Reflecting on the events this weekend I remember a segment from the “Dancing Salmon Home” trailer. In this segment, an angry non-Indian man attacks the Winnemem, asking “if the salmon are so important to you, why are we just hearing about this now?” He also makes statements about the Winnemem are just trying to get the Shasta Dam removed, trying to take public land and hope to build a casino. Public perception of Indians, particularly in rural areas, is perpetually tainted by stereotypes and anti-Indian propaganda. Couple that with BSA’s romanticized, inaccurate and colonizing representation of natives, and it is no small wonder that American Indians receive less public support than “white,” Americanized BSA practices.

Boy Scouts of America. 2012. Indian Nations Council Homepage. Available at: Accessed April 16, 2012.

Boy Scouts of America. 2012. Successful Recruiting: Tapping Into Diverse Markets. Available at: Accessed April 16, 2012.

Congressional Research Service. 2009. Summary of H.R. 131 (111th). Available at: Accessed April 16, 2012.

Smith, Linda Tuhwai. 2002. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Zed Books: London

Winnemem Wintu. 2012. Tribal Homepage. Available at: Accessed April 16, 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thesis Proposal

I'm sitting at my computer, pretending to be productive, supposed to be working on the methods for my thesis. Instead, I think I will post my proposal here. That's kind of productive. Creating a study and methodology that will allow for strong statistical analysis BEFORE doing the study has created a great deal of work over the last two weeks (work I thought was finished). One of my committee members has been a great deal of help.

Changes in Singing Behavior in Response to Playback in House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) and Bewick’s Wrens (Thryomanes bewickii)

By Teresa O. Wicks


Birds, Bird Song and Current Research

Bird song, often in conjunction with other factors, provides birds with a way to communicate their reproductive status, territorial boundaries and fitness. In some species, bird song also demonstrates a male’s position as either a dominant or submissive male. In several species bird song also indicates suitable breeding habitat, with males making decisions about where to nest based on conspecific (same species) singing and nesting. Ward and Schlossberg (2004) found that playback effectively attracted black-capped vireos (Vireo atricapilla) to ideal woodland habitat in Texas where one or no pairs of vireos nested in previous years. The study also found that male vireos drawn to the area initially countersang with the playback but eventually habituated. Vireo nests in the study areas were also more successful than nests in similar control areas.

Male singing can encourage breeding behavior in females of the same species. Mota and Depraz (2004) found that female Serins (Serinus serinus) exposed to playback of male Serin songs, during the nest-building stage of the breeding season, spend more time nest building than females not exposed to additional songs. Females of many species prefer males that have a large song repertoire, win male-male singing “contests” or that sing aggressively. For example, Reid et al. (2004) found a strong correlation between song repertoire size and nesting success in Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia). Mennill et al. (2002) found that playback at the start of the breeding season caused females mated to high ranking male Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) to engage in extra-pair mating with increased frequency. Females mated to low-ranking male Black-capped Chickadees did not engage in increased extra-pair mating. This is the result of females eavesdropping on male-male singing competitions and making judgments about fitness based on males “winning” or “losing” singing competitions. Female Great Tits (Parus major) also make decisions about extra-pair matings by eavesdropping on male-male singing competitions (Otter et al. 1999).

Males that sing aggressively typically do so in defense of their territory and aggressive/defensive singing is a sign of a male’s fitness. In European Robins (Erithacus rubecula), males sing aggressively in response to conspecific singing overlap (Dabelsteen et al. 1997) while male Corn Buntings (Miliaria calandra) sing aggressively in response to alternating conspecific singing (Osiejuk, Ratynska and Cygan 2007). Hyman (2007) found that Carolina Wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus) countersing as a sign of aggression, but only in response to the songs of foreign male Carolina Wrens. Stoddard et al. (1991) found that song sparrows respond more to stranger song and neighbor song at the opposite boundary from where they were normally found than to their neighbors. Molles and Vehrencamp (2001) found that banded wrens (Thryothorus pleurostictus) were able to recognize neighbor songs from stranger songs, even if the strangers were singing a shared song. Contrary to these findings, Wiley (2005) found that Acadian Flycatchers (Empidonax virescens) showed only marginal recognition of neighbors compared to strangers songs, and only after 30 minutes of song playback. This is likely because there is very little song variation from individual to individual in Acadian Flycatchers.

There are a number of factors involved in how behavior changes in response to playback. First, is the geographic location songs being tested came from. As mentioned above, males respond less to songs from their neighbors than they do from strangers. Second, location songs are played from. A male will respond more aggressively to a neighbor’s song played within their territory or along the opposite boundary. Third, is the duration of the playback. In Wiley’s (2005) study of Acadian Flycatchers, a slight recognition response was recorded after 30 min of playback but not after only two minutes. Finally, the time of day and season of playback can influence behavioral changes in response to playback. Erne and Amrhein (2008) found that Winter Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) increased the number of songs sung during the pre-dawn chorus following simulated territory intrusion at sunset the previous day. Little research has been done into response as a factor of migratory status (residential vs. migratory).


The purpose of this study is to investigate changes in singing behavior, in response to playback of non-neighbor conspecific song, in Bewicks’ Wrens (Thryomanes bewickii) and House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon). Bewick’s Wrens are a non-migratory species of wren, which maintain territories year-round. Territory size is an average of 4.9 acres in dense riparian woodlands and an average of 9.4 acres in open woodlands (Kroodsma 1973). These birds know their neighbors and will sing (at a greatly reduced level) even in the winter, to defend their territory. House Wrens are a migratory species of wren and do not maintain a territory year-round. House Wrens will return to their breeding territory from previous years, or if that territory is occupied, find one adjacent to their previous territory. House Wren territories are an average of 2.3 acres (Kroodsma 1973). Given their migratory life history, males do not know their conspecific neighbors as well as the residential Bewick’s Wren.


Hypothesis A is that Bewick’s Wrens will display a greater change in singing behavior, in response to playback, than House Wrens. Bewick’s wrens will sing more songs per minute, sing earlier in response to playback and will approach the speakers closer and for longer than House Wrens. These behaviors are associated with aggressive territorial defense, which Bewick’s Wrens will exhibit more strongly because of their year-round territory defense. Alternatively, hypothesis B is that House Wrens will display a greater change in singing behavior, in response to playback, than Bewick’s Wrens. As a migratory species, House Wrens have a much shorter time on their breeding grounds than Bewick’s Wrens. Because of this, House Wrens will display the changes in singing behavior associated with territory defense mentioned above. The null hypothesis is that changes in singing behavior in response to playback will be the same in both House Wrens and Bewick’s Wrens.


Changes in singing behavior can have serious implications for nesting success for individual males within a population. Birds that sing to defend their territory could lose territory if neighboring males see them as weak (in response to “loosing” to the playback). In species where females make extra-pair mating decisions based on a males rank or ability to out sing other males in competitions, males can lose paternity in their nests. Finally, a male that is viewed as weak by its neighbors and/or female conspecifics may not find a mate for that year, missing out on the opportunity to pass on his genetics.

Birders and Playback

The territorial and hierarchical behaviors displayed by most songbirds are what make playback a successful tool for birdwatchers wanting to attract rare or hard to find birds. According to Cordell and Herbert (2002), birding is the fastest growing recreational activity, growing 232% from 1983 to 2001. Birdwatching, though less damaging than many forms of recreation, can have a negative impact on breeding, nesting success, abundance and diversity. Though very little research has been done on the effects of birders using playback, anecdotal accounts abound. Birding organizations, such as the Americans Birders Association (2011), recommend limiting the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds. Using playback to attract birds listed as threatened or endangered is interpreted as harassment and is therefore a violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The use of playback is also illegal in many parks and refuges.

Cutright (1999) recounts the story of a Fan-tailed Warbler (Euthlypis lachrymose) and Elegant Trogons (Trogon elegans) in Arizona. The Fan-tailed Warbler is a rare bird and within only a few days, enthusiastic birders, armed with playback and the desire to add another bird to their life lists, had apparently pressured the bird into moving out of the area. Elegant Trogon sightings are declining every year in southeastern Arizona, potentially due to disturbances of their nest sites by birders and photographers.

While many birders, birding organizations and researchers recommend using playback sparingly, there are some studies and anecdotal evidence that playback can be positive for birds. Some arguments in support of playback claims birds that use song to delineate territory are unaffected by playback and that playback can help stimulate breeding behavior in these species. Anecdotal evidence shows that playback may give a territorial male a feeling of satisfaction at having “scared off” a competitor when the playback ends and birders have moved on.

David Sibley (2011) gives an in-depth discussion of the arguments for and against using playback and provides guidelines for birders to help reduce the negative impacts of playback. Ultimately, well-designed, long-term studies on the impacts of playback on birds need to be conducted to properly inform birders of how and when to use playback (Sekercioglu, 2002).


Study area and subjects

In this study, I will look at changes in singing behavior in response to playback House Wrens and Bewick’s Wrens. Bewick’s Wrens are year-round residents throughout their western range (British Columbia to Mexico), found in scrub or thickets in open areas, open riparian forests and chaparral (Kennedy and White 1997). Similar to other wrens, Bewick’s Wrens learn their song in the winter before their first breeding season, from the males in neighboring territories, rather than from their fathers (Kroodsma 2005). House Wrens are migratory wrens, found in open forests, along forest edges and in meadows with sparse grass, trees or thickets (Kroodsma 1973).

I will locate thirty Bewick’s Wren and thirty House Wren territories, in sites in both Josephine and Jackson Counties. Josephine County sites include Whitehorse Park and Fish Hatchery Park. Jackson County sites include Whetstone Savannah, Emmigrant Lake, Upper and Lower Table Rocks, Valley of the Rogue State Park and sites along the Bear Creek Greenway.

Test Songs

As territories are discovered, songs of the males in each territory will be recorded. Songs will be mixed to create playback tapes. To avoid pseudoreplication and to avoid testing a specific tape or song, each tape will be used only once. Each male will be played the songs of strangers, to avoid neighbor recognition (and resulting habitation/reduced response). Additionally, to avoid testing differential response to dialect, songs of birds from geographically similar locations will be played to other non-neighbor males. Songs recorded in southern Jackson County will be played to birds in southern Jackson County, northern Jackson County to northern Jackson County and Josephine County to Josephine County.

Playback Procedure

Playback testing will start an hour after sunrise and continue for 4-5 hours. Males will all receive the test treatment, consisting of a 3-min pre-playback baseline period, a 5-min playback period and a 3-min post-playback recording period. Playback in territories less than 150 m apart will not be tested in the same day to avoid double-testing.

Measures of response

I will record the following response variables: singing rate (songs/min) pre-, during and post-playback; time to first song during (from the first song of playback) and post-playback; distance of closest approach to the speaker and time spent within 10 m of the speaker.

Possible Outcomes

There are several possible outcomes for this study. These outcomes can be grouped by singing or physical response. In regards to singing rate, birds will sing more songs per minute after playback; fewer songs per minute after playback or singing rate will be unaffected. Time to first song will either be less, greater or unchanged during and post-playback. Either birds will move close to the speakers and remain, will move close to the speakers but not remain or will not move close to the speakers.


American Birding Association. 2011. Birding Code of Ethics. Available from: Accessed February 1, 2012.

Arcese, P., M.K. Sogge, A.B. Marr, M.A. Patten. 2002. Song Sparrow. The Birds of North America, No 704. (A. Poole and F. Gill Ed). Ithaca: The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Byers, B.E and D.E. Kroodsma. 2009. Female mate choice and songbird song repertoires. Animal Behavior 77:13-22.

Cordell, H.K. and N.G. Herbert. 2002. The Popularity of Birding is Still Growing. Birding 34:54-61.

Cutright, N.J. 1999. Attracting Birds Using Tapes or Compact Discs. The Passenger Pigeon 61(1):3-5.

Dabelsteen, T., P.K. McGregor, J. Holland, J.A. Tobias and S.B. Pederson. 1997. The signal function of overlapping singing in male robins. Animal Behavior 53:249-256.

Erne, N. and V. Amrhein. 2008. Long-term influence of simulated territorial intrusions on dawn and dusk singing in the Winter Wren: spring versus autumn. Journal of Ornithology 149:479-486.

Hyman, J. 2003. Countersinging as a signal of aggression in a territorial songbird. Animal Behavior 65:1179-1185.

Kennedy, E.D and D.W. White. 1997. Bewick’s Wren. The Birds of North America, No 315 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Ed). Ithaca: The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Kroodsma, D.E. 1973. Coexistence of Bewick’s Wrens and House Wrens in Oregon. The Auk 90: 345-352.

Kroodsma, D.E. 1990. Using appropriate experimental designs for intended hypotheses in “song” playbacks, with examples for testing effects of song repertoire sizes. Animal Behavior 40(6):1138-1150.

Kroodsma, D.E. 2005. The singing life of birds: the art and science of listening to birdsong, pp10-22. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Mennill, D.J., L.M. Ratcliffe and P.T. Boag. 2002. Female Eavesdropping on Male Song Contests in Songbirds. Science. 296:873.

Molles, L.E. and S.L. Vehrencamp. 2001. Neighbour recognition by resident males in the banded wren Thryothorus pleurostictus, a tropical songbird with high song type sharing. Animal Behaviour 61:119-127.

Mota, P.G. and V. Depraz. 2004. A Test of Male Song on Female Nesting Behaviour in the Serin (Serinus serinus): a Field Playback Experiment. Ethology 110:841-850.

Osiejuk, T.S, K. Ratyńska and J.P. Cygan. 2007. Corn bunting (Miliaria calandra) males respond differently to alternating and overlapping playback of song. Journal of Ethology 25:159-168.

Otter, K., P.K. McGregor, A.M.R. Terry, F.R.L. Burford, T.M. Peake and T. Dobelsteen. 1999. Do female great tits (Parus major) assess males by eavesdropping? A field study using interactive song playback. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Science 266:1305-1309.

Reid, J.M., P. Arcese, A.L.E.V. Cassidy, S.M. Heibert, J.N.M. Smith, P.K. Stoddard, A.B. Marr and L.F. Keller. 2004. Song repertoire size predicts initial mating success in male song sparrows, Melospiza melodia. Animal Behavior. 68:1055-1063.

Şekercioğlu, C.H. 2002. Impacts of birdwatching on human and avian communities. Environmental Conservation 29(3):282-289

Stoddard, P.K., M.D. Beecher, C.L. Horning and S.E. Campbell. 1991. Recognition of individual neighbors by song in the song sparrow, a species with song repertoires. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 29:211-215.

Ward, M.P and S. Schlossberg. 2004. Conspecific Attraction and the Conservation of Territorial Songbirds. Conservation Biology 18:519-525.

Wiley, R.H. 2005. Individuality in songs of Acadian flycatchers and recognition of neighbours. Animal Behaviour 70:237-247.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Term

I don't post on here nearly enough anymore! Life has kind of run away with me, again. I'd like to start doing regular features again...maybe, someday. Anyway, I've started making recordings. The going has been rough but I think things will improve. The first week of a new project is always a little bumpy. Last term ended with a bang, so to speak. Many, many projects, too many hours spent trying to talk to people about environmental racism and things of that nature. Currently, I'm working on getting into a class about American Indian Identities, something I should head off to do now. The birding has been fantastic, I can't remember the last time I was this happy (birding every morning will do that!). Cheers!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Rite of Passage" assignment

I love this assignment, even though I'm not sure if it is what the professor was looking for.

Bird Extravaganza: the Gathering of Feathered Nations

When we first started talking about a Rite of Passage I felt a little overwhelmed. I don’t have much classroom experience and wasn’t really sure how a Rite of Passage could be incorporated into the things I do know (teaching in the fields, Educational Kits, etc). I came up with an idea to create not only personal “steps” in this Rite of Passage, but a classroom goal as well. My hope is that this could be incorporated into outdoor education programs and into the Educational Kits that we send to classrooms. At this point, I must also mention that I think birds are an excellent way to connect kids with nature in general and this Rite of Passage (and the activity that precedes it) can be incorporated into any classroom as an extra activity.

My idea behind this Rite of Passage is not only teaching students how to identify birds but also about their life history (what they eat, where they live, etc). Each student will have a card similar to a BINGO card with blank squares. Students will be shown bird cards, played bird songs and will do various bird-related activities daily, for a month. There will also be a “bird of the day,” including a picture of and life history for the bird, featured every day in class. Before each bird lesson, the teacher will show students birds and play bird songs and have the students write down which birds they think they are seeing/hearing. Time at the beginning of the lesson will also be dedicated to having students talk about the birds they saw at home and on the ride to and from School.

At the beginning of the month, all students will start out as birdwatcher. Each time a student identifies five birds they will become a different type of bird. The levels are: birder, naturalist, scientist and expert. Each week will end with a ceremony where students receive a flag depicting the level they have attained.

Finally, at the end of the month, the Bird Extravaganza: the Gathering of Feathered Nations will happen. Students will make a mask depicting their favorite bird. Students will wear their masks to a gathering of feathered nations, a celebration of birds and the students’ accomplishments. At the gathering, students will be given ribbon to put their flags together with so the flags can be displayed at home. Throughout the month, students will compile information about what birds eat and will compare what birds eat to human foods. Students will wear their masks to the gathering and eat foods inspired by birds. For example, berries, corn, bird nest cookies with chocolate eggs (see recipe), trail mix, cherries, oranges and granola. To mimic nectar teachers can serve simple syrup and ginger ale (sparkling water or lemonade can be substituted) drink (see recipe for Thimbleberry and rosemary simple syrup as an example). Red Kool-aid looks like commercial hummingbird nectar and can be used instead of simple syrup.

My hope is that this activity not only teaches students about birds, but inspires them to learn more about them. I also think this could be a fun activity to bring students together, and encourage a stronger connection to the world around them.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thesis, projects and birding oh my!

Oh I've had a jolly time birding and a pleasant (though not nearly as jolly) time working on my thesis proposal and big project. I've had a few gnarly conversations with members of the biology faculty at my school regarding indigenous peoples and traditional ecological knowledge and current conservation efforts. Thus I've got myself going in several directions research-wise but...i feel very okay with that. Further birding adventures have offered up great birds and wonderful times. I meet with my committee next week to discuss my proposal. I've got my fingers crossed that I get the "thumbs up." I am actively working on homework right now (despite my desire to not be) but felt compelled to post this song...its is adorable!

I can't figure out how to post the video and quite frankly I don't have the time/desire to figure it out! Soon(ish) I shall post some of the great stuff I have for my collectory!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Birding Break

Delightfully, I decided to take a break from the hussle, bussle and stress of the week to go birding. I've never wandered North Mtn. Park before and there have been white-throated sparrows reported there. Unfortunately I did not see any white-throated sparrows, I DID see many birds that I haven't seen in quite awhile (Fox Sparrow, Pine Siskin and a large flock of female/juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds to name a few). It was nice to be out and about. I then went to see my horse and on the way spotted an adult Golden Eagle on a telephone pole. Lovely!

I've decided on a thesis topic. I had narrowed the project down to three possible focal points (residential vs migratory bird response to playback, response to neighbor vs stranger songs, and response to overlap vs alternating song). Feeling completely unable to make a decision I made several slips of paper for each topic and drew one from a hat. Residential vs Migratory it is! Now to get this thesis proposal finalized!

Finally, my "big project" for one of my classes is about Birds (shocking, I know). This project will include notes about the birds I see in my daily life, thesis related papers and whatnot, anything I find in the media about birds, quotes from other people about birds in their lives and things of this nature. Kind of following a "Birds in our Daily Live" kind of theme. I'm calling it "Growing Up Bird." Which reminds me that I will probably write about the similarities between juvenile birds and humans (I see many of them!). Anyone out there interested in contributing your thoughts and experiences, whether daily or growing up, please leave a comment with your quote, story, etc. Thanks!

I've come to realize that my life is quite literally all about birds right now. The majority of my projects are about them, I'm birding regularly and my spare time is filled with thesis research/proposal writing. I'm certain I've never been happier!