Creature feature: Common poorwill

At a time when people are encouraged to isolate themselves and remain indoors to slow the spread of the 2019 coronavirus, many of us are feeling antsy or idle. But sitting inactive for long periods of time is the name of the game for the common poorwill. These birds are a member of the nightjar…

Sunday Sketch: Social Distancing

We are all adjusting to a new normal, but for some animals social distancing is a way of life. Take the slow loris for example. These guys are happiest hanging out at home by them selves. One study found that these guys only spend 3% of their time in association with other slow lorises and…

Field Frame Friday: Beauty in Decay

I found this violet bellied hummingbird (Juliamyia julie) in Panama shortly after it died. The iridescence in hummingbird feathers does not come from pigmentation; it is structural. Microscopic “bubbles” in hummingbird feathers refract light; the size and arrangement of the bubbles determines the colors that escape, creating brilliant patterns like the rainbow seen on this…

Sunday Sketch: International Day of the Seal!

Did you know that March 22 is the International Day of the Seal? Seals are a part of the phylogenetic suborder Pinnipedia that consist of seals, sea lions, and walruses. Seals (Family: Phocidae) live in both the northern and southern hemispheres of our planet, from the cold, polar regions of the arctic and antarctic, to the…

Field Frame Friday: Tread carefully to avoid becoming a snake snack.

When your fieldwork requires traipsing through the forest understory, you often need to keep your eyes open for elusive dangerous creatures you may encounter. Since I conduct my fieldwork in peninsular Malaysia, I need to look out for creatures such as the wagler’s pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri). Also known as the “temple viper”, these snakes…

Newsroom: What’s in a Song?

Our newest piece features Allison Lau, who investigates individuality in singing titi monkeys!
@AllisonRLau @BalesLab

Creature Feature: Ringneck snake

To readers with ophidiophobia, or the fear of snakes, Ireland should be high on your vacation destination list. Popular legend attributes the Emerald Isle’s lack of legless reptiles to the actions of St. Patrick. He is said to have banished all snakes from Ireland in the 5th century AD after the serpentine critters attempted to…

Sunday Sketch: Thumbless but not helpless

Most primates have opposable thumbs that that help them grasp and manipulate objects. However, the spider monkey, Ateles geoffroyi, is one exception in which their hands have no thumbs at all! Instead, spider monkeys have a specialized prehensile (grasping) tail that is hairless on its underside and has a fleshy pad that is unique to each monkey…

Field Frame Friday: Karma Karma Chameleon

Many chameleons (especially of genus Furcifer) can change color extremely rapidly not only for camouflage, but also for communication, courtship, and contests. A recent study finds that complex and quick color changes are attributed to two layers of skin that contain crystals that reflect light. The double layer of skin also may provide thermal protection…

Field Notes: The Inconvenient Truth (about field work)

Hello Ethogrammers! Maggie and Karli here, your editors who work behind the scenes with all the wonderful Field Notes writers each month. For many of us, field seasons are fast approaching, and while Field Notes gives you the glamorous, adventurous parts of our contributors’ science adventures, there is a lesser-known but equally important part of…

Sunday Sketch: Get Ready for Aardvark Week

Aardvarks, Orycteropusafer afer, are ant eaters but aren’t anteaters. In other words, Aardvarks in Africa do primarily feed on ants and termites but actually aren’t very closely related to their anteater counterparts in South America. Many of their similarities arise due to convergent evolution associated with their diets. Aardvarks use their long, sticky tongue to…

Field Frame Friday: A Sunrise Serenade with Song and Smells

Many bat species sing complex ultrasonic songs to attract mates and repel rivals [1]. An extremely eloquent singer is the neotropical great sac-winged bat (Saccopteryx bilineata). Males of this bat species sing year round during dusk and dawn, but singing is most intense during the annual mating season [2]. Then, harem males will sing for…

Creature Feature: World Wildlife Day

Biodiversity encompasses all life on Earth: from the adorable birds in your backyard to the terrific trees that provide shade each summer, the fresh fish in your tacos to the sneaky squirrel that tries to snag your snack . . .

Sunday Sketch: Get ready for World Wildlife Day!

This Tuesday, March 3rd, is World Wildlife Day! The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1, 12, 14, and 15 commit to preventing biodiversity loss by reducing poverty, promoting sustainable use of our planet’s resources, and conserving all plant and animal life on land and below the water. Join The Ethogram this Tuesday for a full…

Field Frame Friday: Not So Busy Bee

Busy bee? Not so much. This bee is taking a nap in this flower, which is more common than you may think! Social bees like honey bees have a nest to come home to every night and only sleep outside if they get lost during sundown or become too cold to fly back to the…

Sunday Sketch: Child Labor

Like almost all activities in a social insect colony, nest building involves team work. Weaver ants, Camponotus (Myrmobrachys) senex, build elaborate nests made of stitched together leaves that are subdivided into small interconnected chambers. The work of tying these leaves together involves a surprising joint effort by both adults workers and larvae. Adult workers will carry individual…

Field Frame Friday: Sneaky Snake Alert!

Many animals may respond to the presence of a predator by eliciting a signal that alerts other individuals in the area. Since snakes are a major predator of monkeys, they often respond very strongly whenever one is nearby. The female long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) in this photo is very upset with a large boa constrictor…

Creature Feature: the Greater Spear-Nosed Bat

“I think he’s in the termite mound!” I shouted. Camila Calderón, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, called back: “No! Let’s keep looking over this hill! Maybe the signal is bouncing!” Camila studies the greater spear-nosed bat, Phyllostomus hastatus (or just Phast to its friends). With a typical adult wingspan of…

Sunny Sketch: No Inkling of Ink

The dumbo octopus (genus Grimpoteuthis) is distinguished from its octopus brethren by its adorable ear-like fins that provide its namesake. However, there are also a few other characteristics that make this little creature unique. First of all, it is indeed a little creature compared to most other octopodes, with an average size of just 20-30…

Field Frame Friday: Happy Valentine’s Day!

Titi monkeys are pair-bonding monkeys. They engage in affiliative behaviors like the one depicted here: tail twining! Titi monkeys tail twine during the day in order to maintain contact with their partner, similar to hand-holding in humans. At night, titi monkeys tail twine to maintain proximity and help each other balance while sleeping! Happy Valentine’s Day!…

Field Notes: Listening to Whales.

NOAA researcher and marine mammal acoustician, Arial Brewer, shares her fascination with animal communication and love of the sea!

Field Fiasco Friday: Case of the Missing i-Pad

The animal I study (the kinkajou, Potos flavus) is arboreal and nocturnal. This means that to watch one, I have to run through the Panamanian rainforest at night. While looking up. To manage this, I rely a lot on technology. First, I put collars on my kinkajous that transmit a radio signal. I can use…

Publish and perish: A graduate student perspective

As I sit here writing this, I’m simultaneously observing the two fish swimming on my computer monitor. It is a Saturday, and like most graduate students, I have tried to master the art of multi-tasking. This weekend, however, I’m having a particularly hard time concentrating on my research. This is not because I am jaded…

Sunday Sketch: Birds of a feather

For most raptors, hunting is not a team sport. Harris’ hawks, however, play the game a bit differently. Although a few other raptors are known to hunt cooperatively, Harris’ hawks are by far the most cooperative and coordinated in their hunting behavior. They use many strategies for hunting that rely on coordinated maneuvers by each…

Field Frame Friday: There is no hiding from me, EYE see you!

Jumping spiders (phylogenetic family: Salticidae) of all arthropods (i.e. invertebrates with an exoskeleton)! In addition to the 2 sets of eyes seen in this photo, jumping spiders also have 2 sets of eyes on the top of their head. Each set has specialized function, from detecting changes in light, motion, and color, to the ability…

NEWS: The Ethogram receives outreach award from Animal Behavior Society

January 30, 2020 The Ethogram is pleased to announce that we have been named as one of this year’s recipients for the Animal Behavior Society Outreach Grant. These awards are generously provided to support creative, high-quality animal outreach behavior initiatives that promise to produce a big impact. We would like to thank the Animal Behavior…

Field Frame Friday: A whole new meaning to being called a “bird-brain.”

While the idiom, “bird brain” may mean a silly or stupid person, we may want to reconsider it as a compliment. Turns out, African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) have more abstract logic than the average human toddler. When briefly shown the contents inside two canisters (walnuts or nothing) and then presented the parrots with the…

Field Frame Friday: No provisioning allowed!

When humans voluntarily feed wildlife, it is referred to as provisioning. Although this may appear a harmless and fun activity for visiting tourists, these small acts of “kindness” can have profound effects on wildlife. For example, provisioning can lead to increased aggression among individuals monkeys in a social group, as they are competing over a…

Field Frame Friday: Day gecko, night gecko

Madagascar day geckos (Genus Phelsuma) are important pollinators for Malagasy plants. In fact, the plants often have colored nectar, which is preferred by the day geckos. [Photo and caption by Meredith Lutz] Minnaar, I. A., Köhler, A., Purchase, C., & Nicolson, S. W. (2013). Coloured and Toxic Nectar: Feeding Choices of the Madagascar Giant Day…

Field Notes: Jungle Prozac

Jungle Prozac, my mom calls it. A potent drug, elements unknown. Possible components include the slurry of plant-produced volatile compounds infusing the air, the pleasing fractal dimensions of so many trees, adventure-induced hormone cascades, frequent exercise, a vegetative buffer from the anxieties of society, and a palm-framed view of Lake Gatun, Panama. Whatever its true…

Field Frame Friday: Mistletoe Munching

Mistletoe does not only serve to incite smooches on Christmas, but it’s also a tasty snack for Diademed Sifakas (Propithecus diadema) in Madagascar. When resources are few and far between in the winter, Sifakas rely on mistletoe and this reliance can reduce group cohesion in fragmented forests. Mistletoe may bring humans together, but it makes…

Field Frame Friday Holiday Edition: Christmas in the Field

Alexander is spending Christmas on Barro Colorado Island in Panama, part of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The island is quiet for the holiday: only him, a handful of guardabosques (“Forest Guards”, similar to game wardens, that help maintain and protect the Barro Colorado National Monument), and a few cooks. They had a special lunch,…

Field Notes: PhD Research or Arts-n-Crafts Hour… Why Not Both?

When you’re in the business of making nearly a thousand clay caterpillars by hand, there are a few must-have investments: Spotify premium (for hours’ worth of podcasts), ludicrous amounts of alcohol wipes (to scrub your stubbornly ink-dyed hands), more Copic marker refills than you think you would ever need (so you don’t have to drive…

How to make friends at conferences: a crash course in academic networking

It would not be a very bold statement for me to say that “networking is important.” This is something most graduate students have likely heard from lots of different sources like their parents, their supervisors, or any formal professional development course they’ve taken. The reason this advice is so common is because it’s true. However, it can…