Week 4 – 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 third module/week of this course. [View Week 1] [View Week 2] [View Week 3]

By far our favorite week! The featured birds were from the family of Birds-of-paradise. Several videos, pictures, and activities helped showcase the strangeness of their behavior. Birds-of-paradise are some of the most interesting birds and their unique ornamental feathers provide for some fascinating behavioral study.

The footage of these incredible birds is jaw-dropping. Our favorites include the Superb Bird-of-paradise and Lawe’s Parotia both of which perform absolutely ridiculous displays on leks.

Side note: my dog Bella was incredibly interested in the videos as well, poking her nose at the screen when the birds started squawking.

Also in this week’s module we were asked to “put numbers” on behavior and come up with ideas for better recording such data from observations in the field (those observations unaccompanied by a video camera).

Much of week four covers the amazing research and field study (including video) conducted by Edwin Scholes III. His work in behavioral research of Birds-of-paradise is superb and beneficial to anyone wanting to study other types of birds as well.

The videos Ed Scholes took are all accessible via Cornell’s Macaulay Library. However, it is a bit difficult to find them unless you search via latin names of the birds.

This week also included a discussion and final exam. At the end we were asked 10 questions and I got 7 out of 10 (bird behavior is tough but rewarding for learning more about birds.)

Look for our recap of the final module, week 5 coming soon. Another session of the course begins January 6, 2010.

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