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Red-breasted Nuthatch, Queen's U Biological Station, Ontario

Final Field Projects

The goal of the major project is to:

(1) Enable students to conduct science, from the development of questions through study design, data collection, analysis, summary, interpretation, and write-up. Students will conduct their own field research similar to a graduate student research project, but condensed into less than one week.

(2) Discover something new and interesting about the winter ecology of birds in the eastern Ontario region.

Description, Instructions, and Rubric

Possible Topics

Ecology of Birds in Winter Field Course - Possible Field Project Topics

Foraging Behaviour and Mixed Species Associations
Several species can be found both within and outside of mixed species flocks. How does their foraging behaviour change when accompanied by other species? Previous studies suggest that vigilance behaviour may change dramatically.

Ecological Partitioning Among Species
Several species that winter in our region are ecologically very similar, such as Red-breasted and White-breasted nuthatches, and Downy and Hairy woodpeckers. How do these species partition their resources to coexist during cold, lean months of winter?

Roost Site Selection in Wintering Birds
Long and cold winter nights can be challenging for many of our local birds, yet we know very little about where our local birds sleep at night. Where do various species sleep, and do they select sites that confer an advantage to cold or adverse weather?

Foraging Substrate Use by Wintering Birds
Birds frequently select specific substrates for foraging, but we have little information on local birds in winter. Do birds use foraging substrates at random, or can you find evidence for selective behaviour?

Time Budgets of Wintering Birds
Food and energy conservation are important factors to balance in winter. How do birds change their time budgets through the day, or with changes in temperature and weather?

Competitive Interactions among Birds
Limited resources are often clumped in their distribution, allowing some species to defend resources against other species. What species are behaviourally dominant at clumped food sources? Are these the same species who discovered the resource in the first place? What characterizes a dominant versus subordinate species?

Predator Avoidance
Birds have a variety of defenses against predation that may involve complex interactions among species. Do some species convey information about predators to other species? If so, how do they convey this information?

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