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Summer Science Exhibition 2016 | Monday 4 July - Sunday 10 July | London

Secret Life of Birds

Hands-on at the exhibit

  • Analyse sonograms of birdcalls.
  • Examine birds’ eggs under a microscope.
  • Play a fitness trade-off game to understand the selection pressures faced by birds.

Find out more

Habitats around the world are changing, and the birds that live in them have to adapt to survive. Behavioural ecology is the science of why animals do the things they do. Our exhibit shows how we, students from the Maltby Academy in Yorkshire, have partnered with scientists from the University of Sheffield to study wild birds to predict how they will respond to changing environments.

How birds behave tells us a lot about the pressures they face in their environment. Like us, birds have a limited amount of energy and resources, so they face fitness trade-offs. For example, in the breeding season birds may have to reduce the time they spend foraging in order to find a mate. We have created an ecological field site at Maltby Academy and collected detailed experimental and observational data to understand feeding and breeding behaviour, including in response to human disturbance. We hope our findings will inform the local community and beyond about how we can care for wild birds more effectively.

Our research has been funded by a Royal Society Partnership Grant, enabling science, technology, engineering and mathematics research projects in UK schools and colleges.

Find out more about the Secret Life of Birds.

Presented by: Maltby AcademyUniversity of Sheffield