Dr. Marcelo Araya Salas, post-doctoral researcher, studies the evolution of vocal learning in hummingbirds. Vocal learning is only found in a handful of mammals, including humans, and in three avian orders: songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds. Using techniques for measuring and classifying vocalizations of 272 species of hummingbirds and combining these data with techniques for looking… Read more
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News and Publications
Undergraduate Russell Silva is an engineering major who is developing a tiny electronic device to be attached to small birds, like hummingbirds, to track their movements. This is challenging, because it needs to be accurate, tiny, and lightweight, and communicate with receivers in forests. His tracker is using incredibly small difference in time delay of… Read more
Dr. Gavin Leighton, postdoc, is studying why plumage among bird species that are not closely related is similar. Is it because one species will benefit from looking like the other? Downy Woodpeckers and Hairy Woodpeckers look similar to each other: is it because Downy Woodpeckers would experience less aggression from Hairy Woodpeckers by looking like… Read more
We don’t know if hybridization is more common in some species of birds than others, so undergraduate Jessica Dobler is studying the factors that influence hybridization in birds. She is building a database of bird species and their life history and behavioral characteristics, using primarily information in the Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World… Read more
Undergraduate Tucker Birmingham is investigating the evolution of vocal repertoires across birds by looking at what factors influence repertoire size. She collected information from Birds of North America on each species’ habitat type, if they were cooperative breeders or not, and how many call and song types they have. Early results suggest that forest-dwelling birds… Read more
Undergraduate Matthew Lam is describing Blue Jay jeer calls, which are given when Blue Jays mob predators and in social contexts. He is using audio recordings of jeer calls in Macaulay Library’s collection and measuring characteristics of the calls with Raven (a program developed by the Bioacoustics Research Program, here at the Lab of Ornithology).… Read more