This week we are celebrating our Cornell University undergraduates, graduates, and postdocs who work with us to explore scientific questions related to the behavior, ecology, and evolution of birds.
Graduate student, Joseph Welklin, studies how the social environment influences Red-backed Fairy-wren plumage coloration. Young males molt into distinct black and red plumage at the start of the breeding season to successfully attract females and mate. But not all males molt at the same age. Joe is looking at associations and groupings of the fairy-wrens to see what relationships influence when a young male will molt into the bright red-black colors. Young males who molt into the bright colors are not punished by their fathers in the group, but seem to be attacked by males from other groups.
Check out his presentation on our Facebook page.