Past Investigations


Panama Live: November 2019 – November 2020 


 

A screenshot of the Panama Fruit Feeder cam with two rufous motmots posed on the feeder.

In November 2018, scientists and cam viewers came together to watch the Panama Fruit Feeder cam, share their observations, and discuss potential questions they could pursue to learn more about the tropical species they were seeing on cam.  After weeks of discussion, refinement, and a vote, they decided to answer three questions: (1) When do focal species arrive at the feeder? (2) How does this vary from day to day? (3) Does the timing of food affect when birds arrive? In February 2020, they pursued these questions by collecting data in real time from the cam for six species that are common at the feeder: Clay-colored Thrush, Crimson-backed Tanager, Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Gray-headed Chachalaca, Rufous Motmot, and Thick-billed Euphonia. Then, the community joined scientists to visually explore results (online and in a live webinar) before reviewing and providing feedback on a final report written up by the scientists.


Hawk Talk: May 2018 – March 2020


Illustration of the Red-tailed Hawks on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Red-tailed Hawk Cam with the Cornell University Bell tower in the background.

Illustration by Anna Rettberg

During the Summer of 2018, volunteer cam viewers spent weeks observing the Red-tailed Hawk cam, brainstorming questions about what they were seeing, discussing with each other and scientists, and ultimately voting on a question to investigate: Do hawks use different kinds of calls in different situations at the nest? Even though Red-tailed Hawks are one of the most widespread North American birds, scientists still have much to discover about their behavior and vocalizations. From January to August 2019, we collaborated with the Zooniverse community to record vocalizations and behaviors in 10-second clips from the first week of the 2018 Red-tailed Hawk season. Then, we explored the results using interactive visualizations and wrote up what we found in a final summary.


Battling Birds: October 2018 – December 2019


Illustration of a blue jay flying to a feeder where other bird species, like the black-capped chickadee, are perched.

Illustration by Anna Rettberg

In two rounds of data collection, volunteers on Zooniverse watched clips taken from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s FeederWatch Cam. They recorded information birds, interactions, and weather to answer the question, How does the number of specie and individuals affect behavioral interactions at the feeder? While behavioral interactions at bird feeders have been previously studied, not much is known about the influence of the numbers of species or individuals on these interactions. After over 3,000 participants collected more than 173,500 classifications from more than 25,000 video clips, we explored what the data could reveal using interactive visualizations and wrote up the findings in a final summary.