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Videos used to aid the study of songbirds


Narrator:       This is Science Today. For the first time, researchers have used video recordings of songbirds to show that the visual components of singing behavior of male cowbirds can influence how females respond during the courting ritual. Adrian O'Loghlen, a research scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who co-led the study, describes their innovative technique.

O'Loghlen:    When cowbirds sing and display to each other, they get really close together, within inches of each other and direct the sound directly at the other individual. So, what we have to do is figure out a way of how we could get a cowbird to sing to a camera in the same way that it would sing to a female, for example. And how we solved this was, we put a male and a female in small cages and put the cages side by side. We put a web cam in between the two cages with the lens pointing at the male and we set this up in such a way that when the male sang to the female, he ended up seeing directly into the camera, so we've managed to capture a female's perspective of a male singing to the camera.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.