Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You're Being Watched

Posted by Kirk
There are a few perks to being a professional naturalist. One of them is that you get to spend time outside. We had a "professional development" morning today and our director took us on a hike to the Falls Creek Scientific and Natural Area. There were tons of Pine Warblers around in the pines and we could hear them like mad but not a single one showed itself. This got me thinking about seeing birds and them seeing you back. Have you ever watched a bird and knew it was watching you back? How about when you know a bird is nearby but it knows to watch out for you? New research suggests that birds know when we're looking at them.
"Jackdaws seem to recognize the eye's role in visual perception, or at the very least they are extremely sensitive to the way that human eyes are oriented," said Auguste von Bayern, formerly of the University of Cambridge and now at the University of Oxford.
Check it out yourself at Science Daily.

There's also an article about birds watching you in general. They seems to focus on where you are looking and even the angle of your head. This makes sense if you have ever had to walk into a mew to catch a free-lofted captive raptor. Especially with our captive Barred owl, if I look at her when I go in to get her for a program she freaks out and flies around. If I casually come in and slide up to her sideways and never make eye contact, she let's me pick her up right away.