Questions in Hand, We Look At What’s Next

Screenshot of the two of the Red-tailed hawks nestlings

After weeks of discussions, 340 people ranked 5 proposed questions that are possible to investigate on the Cornell Hawks cam, using four criteria: interesting, specific, measurable, and feasible. Thank you to everyone who voted!

The two questions that rose to the top are about incubation and hawk behaviors:

The 5 questions ranked by participants, with the top two questions highlighted because they received the highest ranking. The top two questions are, "how long does each adult incubate and how often do they switch," and "what's the frequency of certain hawk behaviors, and does the frequency change with weather?"

We’ll plan to answer the first question about incubation using archived footage once the breeding season finishes. Incubation (sitting on the eggs to keep them warm) has ended for this season, and the adults have moved on to brooding their nestlings, but we will be able to use the recordings from the incubation period to investigate question #1 later.

As for the second question, we’re now getting ready to investigate that in real time using the live annotation tool. We first used this tool on the Panama Fruit Feeder cam (watch a one-minute tutorial of how we used the tool here) and we are excited to try it out on the Red-tailed Hawk cam.

The live annotation tool makes as many as 8 buttons available for collecting data as participants watch. Informed by discussions on the Question Design Board, the research team is working on enabling participants to collect data on prey delivery, who brings the prey (male or female), whether the chick is eating or not, whether hawks are vocalizing, and whether or not the adults are brooding the chicks. There may also be the opportunity to collect data on when an adult is visibly present, or when nestlings defend food in a behavior called mantling, or another type of behavior.

What do you think? Do you agree that these are among the most interesting, feasible, and relevant to investigate?

Share your thoughts in the forum below.