We are looking for volunteers for a project investigating vocal behaviour at the nests of grey fantails, which are small, monomorphic Australian flycatchers. These birds sing and call while they are sitting on their nest, which seems like it would attract predators, making the young birds more likely to get eaten. We are trying to find out how often and why they do this, and whether it does make them more noticeable to predators. The work will be remote, and includes watching (and rewatching!) nest exchanges to identify birds by their colour bands, and documenting behaviours on the nest, especially songs and calls, that are important for our research project. You will be watching videos of incubation and chick rearing, so will see behaviours such as nest exchanges, chick feeding, removal of fecal sacs, and more. Other work will include looking at songs to categorize them by song type. You will be using video and acoustic software (free downloads) to document behaviours of interest, and so will need a functioning computer and headphones.
Your contribution will include one of two major tasks 1) watching videos recorded at the nest during different stages of breeding, and recording when the birds perform certain behaviours, like getting on and off the nest, turning eggs, feeding chicks, and, of course, songs and calls, or 2) using acoustic software to help sort and extract song types.
You will be expected to follow research protocols, working with two PhD students on their projects. For both options, you will need a computer to watch videos and record data (PC works better for watching videos), and speakers or headphones that work well enough to hear small sounds on the nest. Additionally, you will need internet to access the google drive and to download and upload files and programs such as BORIS (the program we will use to record behaviours), and RavenLite (acoustic program). For video watching, birds have to be identified by small colour bands on their legs, so you will need colour vision, and both require the ability to hear bird sounds.
If you are interested in gaining research experience from the comfort of your own home in ecology, bioacoustics, and animal behaviour, or if you enjoy birds and contributing to citizen science, then this might be a good opportunity for you. There is a small amount of training involved, and because of this we ask that you commit 20 hrs a week for the first two weeks, then a minimum of 10 hrs weekly afterward.
To learn more, send an email about your interests/experience, availability, and any questions to Kristin White (kakovach.217 AT gmail.com) and Nadya Sotnychuk (nadya.sotnychuk.2016 AT owu.edu) with the subject ‘Grey Fantail Video/Audio Volunteer 2020’. Serious inquiries regarding the project and position are welcome.