Past Investigations


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.