Get To Know Your Bird Cams Lab Mates

October 22, 2020

Since we started Bird Cams Lab back in 2018, we’ve grown to over 4,000 members! We’re thrilled the community has blossomed and that there are so many people passionate not only about the Bird Cams but about learning more about the birds on cam.

With the community still growing, we thought it’d be nice to step back and get to know each other a little better. Today we feature two of your “lab mates” who have been involved in Hawk Happenings, the most recent investigation around the Red-tailed Hawk Cam.

            Kaliopi Nikitas

A photo of KaliopiWhere are you based right now?
Toronto, Ontario

What’s something people might find surprising about you?
I studied microbiology and cell biology as a researcher, but then I underwent a lifestyle change and became a personal trainer, a yoga teacher, and am now a life coach. I also have spoken in seven different languages, though I’m only fluent in two right now.

What’s your favorite bird cam?
The Red-tailed Hawk cam. Red-tailed Hawks are my favorite bird and are the reason I came across the Cornell cams. I once saw a hawk flying over me and I was in awe. They’re just so majestic and out-of-this-world.

How are you involved in Hawk Happenings?
I started with the Bird Cams Lab investigation Battling Birds, then participated in the rest: Hawk Talk, Panama Live, and now Hawk Happenings. For Hawk Happenings, I participated in all parts.

What was your favorite part of the investigation so far?
The Question Design, when we’d discuss what’s measurable, what’s not measurable, and talk about the scientific method. Even though I’ve done research before, behavior is new to me and I enjoy thinking about things like “How are we going to quantify that?” “What does ‘pattern’ mean?” I loved the co-creation because my ideas, contributions can make a bit of difference and it was great to see everyone weigh in with their perspectives.

What’s one thing that’s kept you sane during this pandemic?
Watching all the cams, including the Royal Albatross one. It’s so nice to have different times across the plane. I also absolutely love the petrels in Bermuda. Seeing them is a reminder that life and beauty renew, keep going on. I look forward to watching the bird cams every day. They are my “bird TV” since I don’t have an actual TV.

            Helen Heins

A photograph of Helen

Where are you based right now?
Kankakee, Illinois, about 60 miles south of Chicago.

What’s something people might find surprising about you?
For 20 years I worked for the University of Illinois Extension. My responsibilities varied from clerical work and IT to being part of a pilot program for the Extension Online Plant Clinic. The clinic was my favorite part of the job. Clients brought in samples of their plant problems, ranging from pesticide damage to disease. I took digital photographs using a specially adapted microscope and passed them along to University of Illinois educators. The experience led me to an even greater appreciation of nature.

What’s your favorite Cornell bird cam?
Panama Fruit Feeder cam because of all the different types of birds at the site. It feels like I’m on vacation.

How are you involved in Hawk Happenings?
I watched the Red-tailed Hawks cam and collected data.

What’s your favorite part of the investigation so far?
Learning more about the hawks. Previously, I only knew them as predators, so it was interesting to see them as caring parents.

You made over 1,000 observations! What kept you going to watch and collect data on the hawks?
It was easy and made me feel a part of the program. I also became attached to the baby hawks, and I was so impressed by the parenting skills of Big Red and Arthur.

What’s one thing that’s kept you sane during this pandemic?
Bird watching and bird feeding have definitely been my activities that have helped and calmed me the most.

Now that you know a little about two of your Bird Cams Lab mates, feel free to introduce yourself in the comments below and include a picture if you’re comfortable.