We have recently enrolled in an eCornell course called “Courtship and Rivalry in Birds“. This is a 5-week course and here is a recap of the first module/week of this course.
The course begins with a calm, relaxed pace with step-by-step details on what to expect and how to benefit fully. Included with the course is a template for keeping a nature journal, an often overlooked tool for improving bird behavior (and other natural) observations in the field. You can print out the journal (recommended) to write along with the course or save it out as a Word or Google document to keep it in electronic form.
The first module has you watch a 3 minute video that displays a wide variety of bird behaviors. Your requirement is to try to record as many behaviors as you can observe. It is worth watching a couple of times, the first just observing and the next recording your observations.
Next, you are asked to organize your written behaviors into categories as a way to better understand how these relate to each other. There is an interactive test to assist you and explain why certain behaviors are communication or non-communication, social or self-maintenance, and more.
The final requirement and a major focus on the overall course, is to participate in the discussion forums. Here, for week one, we were asked to post questions on bird behaviors we have observed and to answer other students’ posed questions.
Look for our recap of week 2. Another session of the course begins January 6, 2010.