Science

Photos Reveal Purpose of Black Facial Markings in Peregrine Falcons

By Kathi Borgmann
Many animals have black markings under the eye that are said to reduce the amount of glare entering the animal’s eye, improving their ability to see especially in bright conditions. Athletes also subscribe to this idea, often placing black grease or strips under their eyes to reduce glare from the sun or stadium lights. Until…

Behind the Scenes of Sound ID in Merlin

By Benjamin Hoffman and Grant Van Horn
What is Sound ID? Today we announced one of our biggest breakthroughs—Sound ID, a new feature in the Merlin Bird ID app—and a major leap forward in sound identification and machine learning to date. Sound ID lets people use their phone to listen to the birds around them, and see live predictions of who’s singing. Currently,…

Recordings Plus Specimens Reveal Female Song in a Flycatcher Species

By Kathi Borgmann
In the last several years, song in female birds has been documented more and more frequently, thanks to community scientists, sound archives, and dedicated researchers. But for groups of species like flycatchers in which males and females look identical, female song can easily go unnoticed. New research out this month in the Wilson Journal of…

Publications Using Macaulay Library Assets in 2020

By Kathi Borgmann
Acevedo-Charry, O., and W. Daza-Diaz (2020). First record of Rufous-thighed Kite Harpagus diodon in Colombia. Bull. B.O.C. 140:104–109. Adams, D. B., and D. M. Kitchen (2020). Model vs. playback experiments: The impact of sensory mode on predator-specific escape responses in saki monkeys. Ethology 00:1-13 Adsett, W. J., and L. Lieurance (2020). First breeding record, vocalisations…

Recordings Powering New Research

By Kathi Borgmann
Movie stars have the Oscars and ornithologists, well, they have the North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC). While not quite as extravagant as the Oscars, for ornithologists, NAOC is the biggest event of the year. This year the event took place in August and looked a little different. Instead of thousands of ornithologists meeting in person…

White-throated Sparrows are changing their tune: your recordings at work for science

By Kathi Borgmann
The sweet song of the White-throated Sparrow drifts through forests and meadows all summer long across Canada, the northeastern U.S., and the northern Midwest. Field guides tell us that the song they sing sounds like Oh-sweet-canada-canada-canada or Old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody-Peabody.  But, Dr. Ken Otter, from the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues recently discovered that…

A simple song can say a lot: Geographic differences in the Chipping Sparrow’s song are discovered using citizen-science recordings

By Abigail Searfoss, PhD and Nicole Creanza, PhD, Vanderbilt University
Many avian species in North America differ in physical appearance, leading researchers to split them into separate subspecies, often based on geography. Just how subspecies form is a question many researchers are trying to answer: How do these physical and plumage differences arise? Do subspecies have behavioral differences, too, such as different songs? How do…