For most people, the chirping of birds is the language of springtime.
For us, birdsong hints of unfolding leaves, blooming gardens, whispering
breezes. But what are these chatty birds really gossiping about?
Well, its not necessarily that poetic.
IUs Meredith West is professor of psychology and biology,
and along with her post-doctoral student, Dave White, she tells
us all about what those birds are really saying, how their social
and cognitive capacities have evolved to deal with the predictable
and unpredictable features of their ecology. West studies bird language
and behavior at her aviaries just north of Bloomington. Much of
her work has focused on starlings and their ability to mimic the
sounds around them, and the behavior of cowbirds, whose parents
employ a sort of nanny system. That is, they lay their eggs in the
nests of other bird species to be hatched and raised. So the question
here is, how do they know theyre cowbirds?
Listen to the entire
conversation or listen by topic:
Read more on West's research at these archival HP sites:
success of the cowbird
Mozart's starling: Salutations from
'one upstart species to another'
Listen to other IU Home Pages "Conversations