Student Research Projects

A comparison of birdbath behavior in the European Starling and the House Sparrow

Student Sarah Antozzi '17 (Comprehensive Liberal Studies)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Biology
Course Biology 320: Ornithology

Abstract

This study examined the behavior of birds at birdbaths, seeking to compare behavior across species, both when birds were alone and when conspecifics (those of the same species) or interspecifics (those of different species) were present. I set up two birdbaths, one on a college campus and one in a suburban backyard, and observed them from nearby buildings’ windows, which served as a blind. One birdbath was never visited by birds while under observation. At the other, I saw three species: House Sparrows, European Starlings, and one American Crow. Qualitatively, social behaviors were observed during the birds’ bathing and drinking, including dominance and aggression. Also, the three species varied in how they used the water. House Sparrows drank it, European Starlings drank it and bathed in it, and an American Crow dunked bread in it. Quantitatively, differences were observed in how long birds took per drink of water, both between species and between the sexes of the House Sparrow. Lone European Starlings took the least time per drink, while female House Sparrows in the presence of European Starlings took the most.