Science

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…

Can voices from the Macaulay Library help return illegally captured birds back home?

By Kathi Borgmann
Illegal wildlife trade is a booming billion-dollar business, ranking third among illegal activities after drug and human trafficking. Many millions of live and dead animals across the globe are sold every year for traditional medicines, jewelry, and personal collections. Among animals trafficked for the pet trade, birds are the most exploited group. Every year millions…

Female bird song

By Kathi Borgmann
More and more scientists are turning their attention to female birds, uncovering new behaviors and changing the way we think about evolution (see the recent Living Bird article). Karan Odom, a Cornell Lab of Ornithology postdoctoral researcher, and her team used assets in the Macaulay Library and discovered that female bird song is present in…

Birds-of-paradise have it all

By Kathi Borgmann
You can’t have it all, is a phrase many of us have probably heard throughout our lives, but new research on birds-of-paradise suggests that maybe you can…at least if you are a bird-of-paradise. Russell Ligon, a postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and his coauthors Christopher Diaz, Janelle Morano, Jolyon Troscianko, Martin Stevens,…