Researchers in Oregon are working on a huge survey of birds in the state: Oregon 2020. Data from field observations is being compiled to determine the abundance and distribution of Oregon's bird species.
The study in part uses data collected by citizen scientists who bird the state and enter their findings into eBird.
In a presentation given at a bird symposium last year, Birdorable cartoon birds were used to help visualize concepts in field observation data collection, like "imperfect detection" and "detection probability".
The project aims to compile its data on the birds of Oregon by the year 2020. While data collection occurs year-round, County Birding Blitzes are used to collect data in hotspots over a short period of time by a lot of different observers (kind of like Christmas Bird Counts).
To learn more about the project and maybe even contribute data, check it out at Oregon 2020.
Thank you to Tyler Hallman for sharing his presentation with us.
In a recent research study, it was discovered that cockatoos would exhibit self-control in order to receive a prized nut. Self-control was previously thought to be exclusively practiced by animals with larger brains.
Researchers at the University of Vienna gave Goffin's Cockatoos pecan nuts. The birds that waited up to 80 seconds were able to trade up for a more tasty prize: a cashew nut. Here is a video of one of the Goffin's Cockatoos that participated in the study, Muppet, impatiently waiting for his cashew. To learn more about the study, read further here: These bird brains exercise some self-control.
A recent study involving Eurasian Jays found that the birds, related to Blue Jays and crows, demonstrate an aspect of intelligence previously thought only to exist in humans. Male Eurasian Jays present their mates with gifts as part of their natural pair-bonding behavior. In the study, male jays were given the option to present their mates with a gift of a mealworm larvae or a moth larvae. The male would observe the female bird eating either moth larvae or mealworm larvae, and depending on which the female had been eating, the male would offer her the other. The idea is that a "jay that’s gorged on moths will generally prefer to eat mealworms afterwards, and vice versa, just as a [human] satiated by chocolate will next take a slice of cake." This type of awareness of the feelings of others is called "theory of mind" and it was once believed that only humans had this kind of knowledge. You can read more about the study and see a short video of the experiment here: Gift-Giving Birds May Think Much Like People.