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Sparrows in the Mist—Complex Winter Social Behavior in a Little Brown Bird

August 20, 2020 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

| Free

Birdy Hour Speaker Series with Bruce Lyon

Ornithologists often study breeding birds, and as a result, the winter ecology and behavior of migratory birds is relatively understudied. For the past 17 years, Dr. Bruce Lyon and his students have been studying a population of Golden-crowned Sparrows that winter in the University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum. Individual sparrows return winter after winter to the arboretum and flock together with the same individuals as in previous years. Bruce’s research has revealed remarkable social complexity in these birds that is similar in some ways to the societies of mammals, including primates. Learn about how the winter lives of these modest little brown birds—from the use of their black and gold crown patches as signals, to the winter songs of males and females—are surprisingly more complex than previously thought.

Dr. Bruce Lyon is a professor in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research focuses on social behavior and social signals in birds. For the past 17 years Bruce has been studying the winter ecology and social behavior of migratory Golden-crowned Sparrows that winter in the UCSC Arboretum. More recently he has been studying within-species brood parasitism in Wood Ducks near Davis, CA. Most of Bruce’s previous work has involved breeding birds, including a long-term study of American Coots in British Columbia, as well as studies of Lark Buntings on the Colorado Prairies and Black-headed Ducks in the marshes on the pampas of Argentina. For his Masters at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Bruce studied parental care in Snow Buntings in the high arctic of Canada, while his PhD research at Princeton University focused on brood parasitism and parental care in American Coots in British Columbia.


August 20, 2020
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Zoom Webinar


San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory
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Danya Winterman