This morning I was lucky enough to see, up close, one of the few North American whooping cranes! With no other whooper friends around, this crane foraged at the UF Beef Teaching Unit, a small cattle facility nestled within the city of Gainesville, among groups of wintering Sandhill Cranes.
Just when you thought the Sandhills were large and conspicuous, this Whooper stands out (literally!) in the group. This species clocks in as the tallest, flight-capable bird in the world. Due to extreme conservation and re-introduction efforts, including the extraordinary Operation Migration, there's hope yet for this species.
Visit SavingCranes.org for more information on conservation efforts and population trends.
If you live in Gainesville make a quick trip out to the Beef Teaching Unit ASAP!
GitHub is like StumbleUpon and Google, for coders.
It's took up a precious 2 hours of my night yesterday. I did, however, find this amazing R package geared towards teaching beginner R students how to use R in R.
It's called Swirl.
2. It's not entirely boring; learning to use R alone is.
3. It's highly interactive.
4. It's also an amazing resource for both intermediate R users trying to learn stats and for teachers of R!
I've known of GitHub for a while now, but I've never actually used it. I doubt I will be creating my own repositories any time soon (a place to store and manage my functions, packages, etc), however, I will be using it as a go-to resource for learning how to analyze data and play around, generally, in R!
As summer ends and "Fall" begins (although, this is Florida), data analysis becomes a primary target. Although I have already analyzed much of my data, I have yet to write up reports for publication. I am also interested in running my Occupancy Models by Dr. Jim Nichols, who has been kind enough to correspond through email regarding my modeling concerns. So, I won't be watching sparrows much, for a while.
This semester has been full of surprises....although I was already aware, I have come to realize persons of stature, like Jim Nichols, will help if you ask. I suppose, you must ask in a nice tone, but that's obvious.
This semester I have spoken with quite a few potential Ph.D. advisors from across the country. Although stressful, these conversations have been enlightening, and quite refreshing! It is interesting to get a taste of what's in their minds, if only briefly. Maybe one day I will be on the other side and it will still be refreshing to hear what's on the minds of young ecologists?
That's all, folks.
I'd like to dedicate this post to my missing bird, Tookie, who I miss dearly. He did lead a plush life...spoiled little bird.
Jokingly, when describing my plans to conduct for the following morning to someone, I often find myself putting in quotations the word field in fieldwork. "Field"work, I might say.
My "field"work currently consists of driving from location to location in urban areas to conduct point counts. Having had the opportunity to conduct similar fieldwork in fairly natural settings, like the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station, the excitement of counting birds in the city wears thin during daily pockets of inactivity. This is especially true when my target species, or any species for that matter, are undetected.
Although conducting simple point counts in the city is often boring (relative to counting and observing many species in the forest) the bursts of excitement that occur when either my target species or an interesting competitor species is seen is worth these bouts of non-entertainment.
Having a plethora of point count data to answer (or not) our research question: Are House Sparrows in Gainesville: (a) limited to highly urbanized habitat and/or (b) absent (or rarely occurring) in residential areas?
So far, both (a) and (b) have a preliminary "yes". <-- This is worth the early-morning-boring-point-count ritual I am currently undertaking.
Residential Areas in Gainesville are sometimes quite beautiful.
I prefer the unmanicured lawns of resident naturalists, bird-lovers, and the "landscape-lazies", but many of my residential point count circles were randomly assigned to yards and neighborhoods opposite of this. Picture-perfect lawns. White-picket fences. Hedgerows. Lawn mowers. Lawn mowers. Lawn.mowers.
There's nothing like listening to the sounds created by the hired landscaping help early to mid-morning in these fairly affluent neighborhoods while attempting to listen for singing and calling birds. Despite these soundscape annoyances, conducting point counts in these types of neighborhoods can be quite refreshing, compared to the car-and-human-filled parking lots of urban point counts.
Most Gainesville neighborhoods I have visited strictly for point counts this summer have been fairly diverse in avian species, despite the manicured lawns and lack of native shrubbery.
I suppose this blog had no cohesive theme, other than being a place to (a) positively (but underhandedly negatively) vent my frustrations with doing point counts in the city and (b) to inform you, my friends, of what I have been up to in the "field" this summer.
I am very pleased to announce that on top of the GIS/scrub jay ecology FWC internship this summer, I have also been awarded an IFAS Internship (U of FL) to continue working in Dr. Sieving's lab as a research/field tech!
Looking forward to refining my publishable writing skills!
Just got accepted for an FWC Avian Ecology Internship for the summer! Excited to work with Dr. Karl Miller and Ryan Butryn with AMKEs and FLSJ distribution and ecology!
On another note - only about two more good weeks to collect data; better get a move on.
I absolutely despise waking up to grey skies; they make my current field work impossible! Silhouettes of birds aren't good enough.
On a good note, my co-ed sand team won our 2nd game of the season last night!
Checked on the feeders today with no recording luck.
Tried to get some naturalistic recordings of parids at the NATL but, unfortunately, they were being followed by many loud, easily flushed robins and I just couldn't keep up.
Jessica is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and enjoys playing disc golf, volleyball. She also does some casual birdwatching, and is most recently enjoying her new chicken-farming hobby.