Neophobia and Aggression Trials

Because bluebirds don’t take any days off, our field work team continued work immediately after finals and graduation! The team currently consists of me, graduate student Heather Kenny, and fellow undergraduate Sarah Weber. We continued performing behavioral observations to categorize the birds into “bold” and “shy” personality types, as well as banding and nest checks. We also began applying the noise treatment to randomly selected nest boxes for Heather’s project.

In addition to field work, we began troubleshooting the best way to transcribe our data. We take a variety of behavioral measurements, including feeding rate, response to a foreign object (neophobia), and aggression. For the neophobia and aggression trials, we record what is happening through audio recordings so we can keep up with the birds’ behavior. We began using audio analysis software to help us transcribe the birds’ behavior. This data will be used to categorize the birds into “bold” and “shy” personalities, which I will use to determine if there is a difference in CORT levels between the personality types.

A preserved tree swallow specimen used in the aggression trials! We are using a tree swallow because tree swallows and Eastern bluebirds are competitors for nest spots. They are both second cavity nesters, meaning they need to nest in hard to find pre-existing cavities!

A preserved tree swallow specimen used in the aggression trials! We are using a tree swallow because tree swallows and Eastern bluebirds are competitors for nest spots. They are both second cavity nesters, meaning they need to nest in hard to find pre-existing cavities!