Fieldwork 2017

 

Another successful field season completed this year, where Sue, Andy, and Georgina were joined by four undergraduate students from the University of St Andrews (two of which were gathering data for their Honours projects), and a graduate from the University of North Carolina. Over the course of 7 weeks the students gathered all the data they needed, and even had some time off at the end to go on some lovely hikes and visit the famous Waterton Lakes National Park. The students had some lovely words to share, too:

“Coming to the Rockies to study wild rufus hummingbirds was both an incredible experience and the perfect way for me to begin my post-graduate research journey. I learned so much from Drs. Sue Healy and Andy Hurly and gained valuable experience conducting field research. Alberta is a stunning province, and I enjoyed the views, the wildflowers, and the many wild animals I saw on a daily basis.” – Sofia Haley, graduate of University of North Carolina

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“What a way to spend a summer! I have always had a deep interest in animal behaviour and cognition, so I am thrilled to have had the chance to experience this area of research while working with rufous hummingbirds in the Canadian rockies. Doing such fantastic fieldwork with some of the best minds in the field of animal cognition has been a defining experience for me. Sincere thanks to Sue Healy for allowing me to carry out my dissertation research in such a stunning environment, as well as thanks to Andrew Hurly and Georgina Glaser for their excellent mentorship.” – Clara Morriss, 3rd year undergraduate from University of St Andrews

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“The time I spent studying hummingbirds in their natural habitat was a unique experience in which I was lucky to take part. Being able to work alongside experienced scientists and peers – and at the same time being able to conduct my own research in the field – was both challenging and very rewarding. I’m looking forward to using all of the data I collected in the coming year!” – Tas Vámos, 3rd year undergraduate from University of St Andrews

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“My trip to Canada was unforgettable – from the company, to the landscape to the world of science and academia that we were allowed to immerse ourselves in. I saw far more wildlife than I would have ever anticipated (nearly a moose a day) and was continually blown away by the dramatic landscape that surrounded our research station. I arrived with little knowledge of hummingbirds and left feeling invested in these fascinating birds and assured in where I would like my career to take me. I am incredibly thankful for Sue, Andy and Georgina for this opportunity – with a special shout out to Georgina for her ongoing patience and enthusiasm! ” Tom Oldridge, 2nd year undergraduate from University of St Andrews

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“Arriving in Canada at the start of the field season ’17 was exciting and scary, I didn’t know what to expect. I couldn’t have known how incredible, emotional and educational  the next 7 weeks would be. From the very first group meal, to the final drive back to the airport the field season was filled with amazing wildlife, beautiful views and hardcore biology. I have learnt an incredible amount, not only about hummingbirds, but also about working in a team, research, and even myself. This opportunity has been invaluable to me and I’m immensely grateful to Sue and Andy, and of course Georgina for leading us and teaching us (and putting up with us). Thanks for the summer of a lifetime! ” Georgia Kay, 2nd year undergraduate from University of St Andrews

 

Well done, Nora!

A big congratulations to Nora who will be joining a lab run by Rita Covas, Claire Doutrelant, & Fanny Ryback. She’ll be studying cooperative behaviour in sociable weavers in South Africa starting in the end of September, and when she’s not in the field she’ll be split between the University of Montpellier and University of Porto. Well done, Nora!!

Sneak peek footage

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During our field season earlier this year, Sue and our collaborator Andy Hurly (and the hummingbirds) were involved in the filming of a documentary. The series ‘The Nature of Things‘ features a look at hummingbirds, with some incredible footage of the birds in action! Though the episode won’t be available until around late November, you can check out a bit about the making of the documentary as well as a snippet of footage* here on the CBC website.

 

 

*in addition to Sue, Andy, and the hummingbirds, in the background you can also spot Freya, and Maria whose pink coat does catch the eye somewhat

Fieldwork in the Canadian rockies

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A shot of David, Vicki, Maria, Mabel, and Freya during a hike in the rockies (photo credit to Freya Coursey)

Another successful fieldwork season in the Canadian rockies! David and Georgina were joined by former Healy lab member Dr Maria Tello-Ramos, as well as three undergraduates from the University of St Andrews (Vicki, Mabel, and Freya) to work on wild rufous hummingbirds for 7 weeks. David and Vicki paired up to find out how the hummingbirds use landmarks, Maria and Mabel looked at whether the hummingbirds change their foraging sequences, and Georgina and Freya focused on how the hummingbirds make foraging decisions. Everyone worked fantastically hard, and got lots of data as a payoff. Well done everyone!

 

Conducting research in the Rocky mountains was an experience I will never forget. Alberta is a beautiful place to work and hummingbirds are the most fascinating species to study. I’m really excited to spend the next year reminiscing about the experience while working with the data we collected. I’m so incredibly grateful to have had the chance to work with such esteemed scientists, who were not only inspiring and excellent teachers but good fun too. Thank you for all your continued guidance. To future adventurers I would recommend a good sunhat, plenty of bug spray and a better camera than I had!

– Mabel Barclay

 

I was completely amazed to be given this opportunity to carry out research for my dissertation in the beautiful setting of the Canadian Rockies. Being able to watch hummingbirds behaving in the wild was a real treat, and is an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I learnt a lot, not only about cognition in hummingbirds, but also the often tricky process of data collection and the general world of academia. My gratitude goes to Dr Sue Healy and Dr Andy Hurly for the fantastic opportunity, and also many thanks to Georgina, Maria and David for putting up with us undergraduates. Extra thanks go to Georgina for your mentoring and endless enthusiasm!

– Freya Coursey

 

I had such a fantastic experience in Canada. I saw far more wildlife than I could have imagined. The hummingbirds were amazing, and never mind the experiments – they would come feed from a feeder that I was holding a foot away from my face!! But of course, the best thing had to be seeing that wolf. MOST EXCITING MOMENT OF MY LIFE!!!!!

 – Vicki Balfour

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David, Maria, Mabel, Freya, and Georgina enjoying a day off before leaving Canada (photo credit to Mabel Barclay)

Welcome back!

 

Rockies - groupTwo of our PhD students, Maria and Georgina, have just returned from Canada, having completed 7 weeks of fieldwork in the Rockies. They had two undergraduates, Amy and Ellen, helping them work with wild male rufous hummingbirds, and everyone seems to have had an enjoyable time and collected some exciting data!

 

I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to work with a group of brilliant scientists on such an interesting topic. Our avian subjects were delightful to work with, and the area of study was beautiful. We collected some interesting data, and had great fun doing it. Thanks to Dr Sue Healy and Dr Andy Hurly for having me, and thank you to Georgina Glaser and Maria Tello Ramos for being great mentors. It was truly an amazing experience to work with the hummingbirds, one I shall never forget. 

– Amy Gresham, The University of Nottingham

 

 

Before I left for Canada I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first experience of fieldwork. However, after spending 8 weeks studying the male rufous hummingbirds in the Rocky Mountains, I feel I have gained invaluable skills in problem solving and innovative thinking. I was also fortunate to spend time with like-minded scientists, who taught me much about the world of academia from their own experiences of biological research. I am grateful to have studied in a remote location and encountered such wildlife as I did, and above all the experience revealed to me my own particular interests within the field of Zoology.

– Ellen Bird, The University of Edinburgh