The Life of a Field Biologist

This summer research was full of extremes – waking up at 4:00 AM for field work, spending long hours indoors staring at a screen, rushing to fix broken camera cords, struggling to figure out how to back up and store many terabytes of video and song data. Some of the work was fun, some of it was hard, and some of it was monotonous, but it all added up to working determinedly towards a carefully crafted result: valid, valuable data that will be used in a study that will hopefully spawn more studies and help improve the sonic net.

Although the data analysis isn’t complete (and there are still more relevant experiments to be done), it seems clear that the sonic net is breaking new ground. It makes sense that interfering with avian communication frequencies would discourage birds from feeding in or traveling through the targeted areas. One day, these nets could be employed to prevent migratory birds from colliding with wind turbines, skyscrapers, and solar fields. They could be used to prevent birds from destroying farmer’s crops without killing the birds. In the meantime, these small scale studies allow for an interesting look into the behavior of songbirds, and there are still many questions to be asked. A lot of answers to questions we haven’t thought of are probably hidden in the vast amount of data we collected this summer. It was exciting to be a part of building this database and contributing to such an important ecological and behavioral study.