Birdy Hour Speaker Series with Bruce Lyon
Coots are often overlooked by birders because they are so common. Dr. Bruce Lyon has been studying the reproductive antics of American coots for the past two decades and has discovered that there is far more to this bird than meets the eye. He will highlight some of his discoveries about the parental and reproductive strategies of coots and answer questions such as: Why do some coot females lay their eggs in the nests of other coot females? What do the birds that receive these unwanted foster eggs do? Coots are just as bizarre when it comes to raising their own kids, and there are many puzzling features of coot parental care behavior. For example, why do coots lay far more eggs than they can normally raise and why do they beat up their kids so much? And, finally, why are baby coots born with such a ridiculously fluorescent orange plumage?
In addition, because Dr. Lyon’s coot research was done in a wild part of central British Columbia, he will briefly highlight a few of the special birds encountered at the study site. Finally, he’ll discuss how the research program is expanding to ask similar questions in a mysterious coot in the High Andes of Argentina.
Bruce Lyon is a professor of Evolutionary Ecology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research focuses on the evolution of reproductive strategies and mating behavior of birds. His long-term research on the adaptive basis of brood parasitism in American coots has sought to understand why parasitism within species evolves and how the behavior influences other aspects of social behavior. Dr. Lyon has also investigated the evolution of ornamental plumage signals in a variety of species, including lark buntings, lazuli buntings and the evolution of ornamental offspring plumage in the newly hatched chicks of American coots. Most recently, he has conducted a decade long investigation into the winter social lives of migrant golden-crowned sparrows that spent their winters on the Arboretum of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
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