Week 2 – eCornell Course – “Courtship and Rivalry in Birds”

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 second module/week of this course. [View Week 1]

Module/Week 2 is called “How Can We Tell What Birds are Doing?” and focuses on how you can improve your observation skills and identify/classify bird behaviors. There are several video clips included to first help teach some common duck displays given by Mallards and Common Goldeneyes.

There are numerous tips on how to improve your recording skills with a major focus on using your field journal. It is important to record as much information as you can from your direct observations. However, it is also vital to use shorthand and be prepared when recording a large group or a new species or while doing a citizen science project.

“[Citizen science projects] minimize bias by providing observers with an ethogram, or inventory of the behaviors of a species with detailed explanations and illustrations.” -eCornell course

It would be next to impossible to record everything you see in the field but if you can be prepared with a table of suspected observations of a particular species, your data will become much more useful in not only learning behaviors but understanding their functions. The more you can understand about bird behavior the more you can understand about the birds themselves. And watching bird behavior has become one of our main joys in the realm of birding, much more so than just finding birds.

Look for our recap of week 3 coming soon. Another session of the course begins January 6, 2010.

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