Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some Science On Why Squirrels Are So Clever

From Science Daily comes an article about researches studying the gray squirrel's ability to learn from other squirrels by watching each other, especially when it comes to stealing food. It's the first study that officially tests gray squirrel observation skills.

Researchers tested the squirrels' ability to learn to choose between two pots of food after watching another squirrel remove a nut from one of the pots. One group was rewarded for choosing the same pot as the previous squirrel, the second group was rewarded for targeting the other pot.

Those that were rewarded for choosing food from the other pot learned more quickly than those that were rewarded for choosing the same pot, suggesting that gray squirrels learn more quickly to recognize the absence of food.

The study was repeated, but instead of observing another squirrel, the animals were trained with the use of a card. In this test, the squirrels showed no significant difference in their ability to learn to choose the same or opposite pot.

The study suggests that squirrels are primed to recognise other squirrels as potential food thieves. It also shows that they learn more quickly from real life observations than from cards.

This study could explain why feeders like the Yankee Flipper get so little attention from squirrels after being out for only 24 hours. The squirrels see another get flipped and they know to leave it alone.

Read the full article here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

1 in 5 Americans Are Watching Birds?

A new report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows one of every five Americans watches birds and that birdwatchers contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006.

The report – Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis –shows that total participation in birdwatching is strong at 48 million, and remaining at a steady 20 percent of the U.S. population since 1996. So where are they?

The five top states with the greatest birding participation rates include Montana (40 percent), Maine (39 percent), Vermont (38 percent), Minnesota (33 percent) and Iowa (33 percent).

The report identifies who birders are, where they live, how avid they are, and what general kinds of birds they watch. However, the report does little to give insight as to the bird feeding participants.

In addition to demographic information, the report provides an estimate of how much birders spend on their hobby and the economic impact of these expenditures. According to the report, the average birder is 50 years old and more than likely has a better than average income and education. She is slightly more likely to be female and highly likely to be white. There is also a good chance that this birder lives in the south in an urban area.

Backyard birding or watching birds around the home is the most common form of birdwatching. 88% (42 million) of birders are backyard birders. The more active form of birding, taking trips away from home, is less common with 42 percent (20 million).

Birding Adventures TV

There's a new birding show growing in popularity. Birding Adventures TV has been shown in the southern US and on the Internet for the last year, but is now getting national syndication via FOX Sports Network.

Hosted by professional wildlife and birding guide, James Currie, BATV is a unique blend of adventure and information, making birdwatching refreshing, contemporary, interesting and exciting. The show has a strong conservation emphasis and highlights the importance and urgency of preserving the planet’s incredible birdlife. Featuring the quest for a rare "Golden Bird" each week, James is joined by birding and conservation experts from around the globe.

Check your local listings for this exciting birding show.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Scott's Wild Bird Food Looking For An Ornithologist


This is a generalist position aimed to support the Bird Food business. The successful candidate would be responsible for the strategic development and design of a technical program to deliver product innovations. The successful candidate will have strong technical knowledge. The candidate's job responsibilities will include: Execute and follow the scientific process to assess
product performance against consumer and business needs, translate technical outcomes into action plans that lead to successful product development, Execute development of product ideation to market realization (formulation, process, claim support, stability, product performance). Scientific background is required - a background in environmental sciences, natural resources, or wildlife management.

Knowledge of ornithology is needed. Any experience in chemistry or pet care/food business is a plus. All interested candidates should apply directly to the through the company's website. Please type in requisition number 012506 in the keyword sections of the page to be directed to the position posting.