Well done Nora – 3rd best talk

nora prize

Nora receiving her prize from Jessica van der Wal, another conference organiser

Congratulations to Nora who won 3rd prize for best talk at the third European Student Conference on Behaviour and Cognition, which was hosted in St Andrews this year and organised by four PhD students, including Georgina and Alexis. Nora’s prize was ‘Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal. Well done Nora!

Outreach – Edinburgh International Science Festival

At this year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival visitors has their eyes opened to the world of nest building! Lauren, Sophie, and Alexis set up an exhibit on ‘Why Do Birds Build Nests?’, inviting both children and adults to try out their own nest building abilities by creating a nest sturdy enough to hold a chocolate egg! Not only that, but various nests (built by the birds, not the visitors) were on display for all to see and touch for a real hands-on experience of nest building. Attendees were also encouraged to test their bird-based knowledge by matching up birds and nests to their environment in Scotland. All the while, footage of nest building by our zebra finches in the lab and of wild weaver birds in the field (South Africa) were running for the viewing pleasure of the hundreds of people who stopped by.

Many thanks to the BBSRC for funding to deliver this event.

Well done team!

New papers out – Reviews

We’ve had some more publishing activity from the Healy lab, recently in the form of reviews! Well done Alexis, David, Maria, Lauren, and Sue!

 

What Can Nest-Building Birds Teach Us?

Photos by Ida Bailey (a) and Kate Morgan (b) and (c).

The structures that animals build are extraordinarily diverse, particularly nests built by birds. As part of the annual edition of Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews, members of the nest building team (Alexis, Lauren and Sue) review 150 years of observational and experimental data to show that bird nest building is a useful model for the study of learning, memory and brain-behaviour relationships. To read more, click here.
 

 

Why study cognition in the wild (and how to test it)?

A lot of what we know about animal cognition comes from studies in the lab, but researchers (including us!) are getting more and more curious about the role of cognition outside of the lab, studying animals in their natural habitats. As part of a recent special issue of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, we (David, Maria, and Sue) have written a review looking at why researchers are so interested in cognition in the wild, how we go about testing it, and some of the challenges that people face by working in the wild.

We particularly talk about some of these topics in the context of our own work on the spatial and temporal cognition of wild hummingbirds, so if you like that work, and want to check this out too, you can read the review here.