Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Avian personality tests

The Birdhouse Network--a citizen-science program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology--has initiated a Personality Profiles experiment. The project involves placing a harmless object on nestboxes.

We believe that examining avian responses to novel objects can help us understand why some bird species respond well and others poorly to environmental disturbance. A willingness to explore new features of the environment influences survival and reproductive success in European Great Tits and is thought to be coupled with physical and lifestyle differences across a range of bird species.

By gathering data for several species throughout the range of habitats in North America, we can explore the extent to which curiosity versus caution of novel objects is associated with:

* lifestyle - (city versus country birds),
* unpredictable danger - (high predation versus low predation habitats), and
* mobility - (nomadic versus migratory and residential populations).

To participate, you need to become a volunteer with The Birdhouse Network, receive a welcome packet and pay a $15 fee ($12 for Lab members).

Tree Swallow courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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