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…

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…

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…

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 . . .

Field Notes: Breaking up (with your study species) is hard to do!

They say you never forget your first love, and I know that to be true…for birds. If you’re a regular reader of the Ethogram, you know that we put our hearts and souls into our study species. I’m often asked “Why that bird?” and while it’s easy to respond “Because they’re awesome!” there are actually…

Field Frame Friday: Food poisoning continues to curse California condors.

Did you know that this scavenger gets food poisoning, but maybe not in the “rotten meat” way you think. In the 1980s, California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) were considered extinct in the wild due to many factors, but largely from unintentional lead poisoning from bullet fragments left in terrestrial animal carcasses. Due to captive breeding there…

Field Frame Friday: Garibaldi neighbors respect the “no trespassing” signs.

Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) are territorial fish. Males will clear bottom territories and combat other fish and even SCUBA divers that come too close to their territory. However, it is uncommon that there is intraspecfic aggression; Garibaldis generally “respect” each other’s territories, so there is no need for aggression within species. [Photo by Nick Chudeau and…

Field Frames Friday: Is this habitat too hot, too cold, or juuuuust right?

California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) choose their habitats based on having optimal thermoregulation (maintaining their body temperature). Some of their preferred habitat characteristics include large, flat rocks, lighter surfaces, and protected coastlines from wave action. These features allow California sea lions to easily perform thermoregulation behaviors such as basking on large flat surfaces (like the…

Sunday Sketch: Learning to pick your battles

Northern elephant seal harems (Mirounga angustirostris) are a cacophony of noises with males vocalizing at each other and occasionally getting into physical battles; what information is coded within those noises? Researchers at University of California, Santa Cruz used playback experiments (i.e. recording vocalizations and then playing the vocalizations back to other individuals) to discover that…