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October Project update

Lab Note #3
Oct 06, 2014
Hi folks! Thanks so much for your patience, John and I have been extremely busy and we've gotten a little lackadaisical on the updates. Hopefully this post will remedy that! At this point we've made major progress and put nearly all the funds you helped us procure to good use, so thank you again for helping make this research possible. FIELD WORK: I'm happy to report that by the end of September I accomplished all the field work I set out to complete. By the end of this field season I tested 77 pairs of birds, bringing our total tested to 131 including last year. That requires a lot of driving and peanuts and you helped make that happen! Between all those birds we've produced statistically significant results demonstrating how the bird's foraging response changes after exposure to dead crows, hawks, hawks+crows, and the people involved. The abbreviated results are that crows are treating these different kinds of threats more uniformly than we had anticipated and that if a crow catches you up to no good that's at least a 50% chance you're in for some pretty aggressive behavior from here on out. So treat your crows with care! LAB WORK: While I was in the field John handled the brain scanning work, allowing us to get a lot of work done simultaneously. He scanned 7 birds each 4 times, for a total of 28 scans. This was our first attempt to do multiple scans on a single bird and it was successful! All birds survived not just 2, but 4 scans and were SUCCESSFULLY RELEASED. The 4 scans conducted were: Sight of a dead crow, sight of a dead song sparrow (this is the control), sound of crows scolding dead crow, and sound of fledgling crows begging for food. So, we will be able to determine if repeated exposure in the lab affects brain action, if sights and sounds of the same thing (dead crow) stimulate same places in the brain (that is, when a crow hears another scold do they “imagine” the sight of the dead crow), and if sights and sounds generally are processed by crow brains differently. We will be sure to update you once we've gone through the processes of analyzing these results. Thanks again for all your support. This work would not have been accomplished without your help. In addition to all the exciting research we conducted we've also been working with PBS journalist, Michael Werner, on a PBS Quest segment highlighting our lab's research. Although it won't be premiering until this winter, Michael graciously provided some footage for you to see. We'll be sure to send out an update once the episode airs! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR92wxZni-Q&list=UUsLILYSyCIILOyQLplxTutA
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