Collect Data On Battling Birds in Panama

January 27, 2021

Take Your Cam Experience To The Next Level  

Join the Bird Cams Lab community and collect data for a new scientific investigation titled, “Battling Birds: Panama Edition.” This project is focused on documenting the interactions that play out between birds on the Panama Fruit Feeder cam. 

What’s Bird Cams Lab?

Bird Cams Lab is an online community of cam viewers and scientists co-creating investigations based on the birds we see on cam. We’ve reached the data collection phase for the Panama Fruit Feeder investigation, and we have thousands of short video clips from the feeder that we need to watch and collect data from. You can read more about how the project got started below, or you can start participating right away. Take a survey to sign up today. 

A Crested Oropendola standing up tall and looking down on a Rufous Motmot as they face off for access to food on the Panama Fruit Feeder cam. There are bananas and oranges on the feeder.
A Crested Oropendola faces off with a Rufous Motmot on the Panama Fruit Feeder cam.

What’s Battling Birds: Panama Edition?

Battling Birds: Panama Edition began back in November, when cam viewers worked with Cornell Lab researcher Dr. Eliot Miller to co-create a scientific investigation to better understand what is going on at the Panama Fruit Feeders when birds battle it out for access to food. Dr. Miller previously researched battling birds at North American feeders with Project FeederWatchers, and he’s excited to have joined forces with Bird Cams Lab participants to understand the interactions between tropical birds that visit the Panama Fruit Feeders. 

With Dr. Miller’s help, our main goal is to understand the social dominance relationships of each species and create what is known as a “dominance hierarchy.” To do this, we will record when a bird attempts to take the perch or food of another bird–known as a “displacement.” Just as sports teams are ranked based on who they win or lose against, we can use the winners and losers of displacements to build the dominance hierarchy. 

Over the span of a few weeks, Bird Cams Lab participants also shared their thoughts with each other and the research team on a Wonder Board. There, they discussed the most important data to collect that could influence displacements. After voting on a suite of potential factors, four garnered the most interest: type of food available, number of individuals present, whether physical contact is made, and the size of the species involved in the displacement.  

We now need all hands on deck! The research team has uploaded clips from archived Panama Fruit Feeder cam footage to Zooniverse, an online platform that hosts thousands of citizen science projects and allows us to record what happens in video clips. We’ve created a data collection protocol for the investigation and gotten feedback from beta testers in the Bird Cams Lab community. We’re now inviting everyone to help by collecting data on what they observe while watching the clips on Zooniverse.

Ready to get started? Sign up by taking a quick survey. By doing so, you’ll help us get to know you so we can understand how to make Bird Cams Lab as effective as it can be. After you take the survey, you’ll be redirected to Zooniverse to start collecting data. 

Still not convinced? Join us for a live conversation in which Bird Cams Lab project leader Rachael Mady and Bird Cams communication specialist Ben Walters talk walk through how and why you should get involved in Battling Birds: Panama Edition.

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