November 12

Cowbirds, Cuckoos and other parasites with Hannah Scharf – Transcript


[00:00:00] Grant Williams: Hello, bird nerds on grant Williams. This is the bird emergency. I am a bird Ned. I'm speaking with you from the wonderful city of Melbourne Olstein Niners nom in the indigenous language. I would like to on this new beginning day for Australia pie, Maurice speaks to the traditional liners and the ANSYS.

[00:00:29] And the latest past present and emerging how I had a skin. I was gonna say it. I was kinda say it. Hell, I've had a shop. You, I speaking with me from the university of Illinois, your, the Cabot cow bird girl. How are you? Not nice to see you.

[00:00:51] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. Nice to see you too. Yeah, I'm doing great. Just had a lovely day of field work today.

[00:00:56] Lots of thunderstorms in the area. So fingers crossed that [00:01:00] all the burns make it through.

[00:01:02] Grant Williams: Great. Hannah is from the university of Illinois. Now Illinois is pretty fresh. Yeah. Bird emergency memory, because we've just had the epic conversation with Jared Hitchings about the . Now there's a nice link with the and the Cabots.

[00:01:24] Hannah, you're doing a PhD at the moment. You referenced your field work a minute ago. Tell us what the PhD is about. And I love your website where you talk about the Cabernet lab. What's the lab really cold.

[00:01:42] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So I am I am just finishing up my fourth year going into my fifth year of my PhD at the university of Illinois at Urbana champagne.

[00:01:51] And so I'm in. What we covered. And that is actually the lab of my advisor, Dr. Mark Halbert. And so he has studied count burns for [00:02:00] years. And most of us in the labs study brew parasitism in some way, shape or form. But we might just study different hosts or different aspects of brute parasitism.

[00:02:10] Grant Williams: And the, do you have a topic with the pH day? Is there one thing that you're trying to answer or understand, or is it generally about the behavior of Cabernets? And of course, when GYN have to very quickly introduce what cupboards are to anyone who is not in north America,

[00:02:33] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, certainly. So I'm in the department of ecology evolution and behavior.

[00:02:38] And Mike focus is on host parasite interactions between brown headache halberds and one of their hosts, the planetary warbler. So I study the ways in which recognition of brood parasites might occur and also the costs that brood parasites impose on their. And so I kind of study different aspects of behavior or physiology through that.

[00:02:58] And if you're listening [00:03:00] and you don't know what a Calvert is Cal birds are actually brood parasites meaning that they never take care of, but on young. Most birds, build their own nests and they raise their offspring. But cowbirds actually never do that. They never ever build their own nests.

[00:03:14] They always parasitize the nest of another bird species and they let that bird species kind of care for the offspring and and raise them.

[00:03:25] Grant Williams: So how many species of Cabernets are there and you're in the Northern portion of the USA. How many of you got in your neighborhood?

[00:03:40] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So we just have the one which is the most it covers most of the, it covers the United States Canada into Mexico.

[00:03:48] And so it's the farthest reaching Calbert throughout the United States. And it's the brown headed. Cowbird we have several other species of cowbird such as the shiny cowbird screaming cowbird bronze, [00:04:00] Calbert giant. Cowbird I might be missing one. But just a couple of other species that you can find in middle and south America,

[00:04:09] Grant Williams: the screaming Cabot.

[00:04:11] Is that wrong? Wait, what does that hang at?

[00:04:14] Hannah Scharf: Yeah most of the other cowbirds are further south than the brown headed Calbert. Some of them are creeping north just a little bit. But screaming cowbirds, I believe are mostly in Argentina.

[00:04:27] Grant Williams: Okay. That's a great just a magnificent name.

[00:04:30] Do you know if they sound lock and murder, but

[00:04:35] Hannah Scharf: I don't, I've never seen one. I don't actually know what sound they make, but I believe they are probably named after the kind of sound they make, but

[00:04:45] Grant Williams: I'm not sure I will chase that up and do the link below as they as I say for those people who are not in the Americas cabinets basically play the [00:05:00] role that cookers play in most of the rest of the world.

[00:05:04] But there's some significant differences about how they be hive. When they're victimizing their hosts, let's let's say so what is the actually let's stop, right? Let's start right at the beginning. Sorry about that. Everyone. Your studying the the relationship with the , but what other species, or are there any other species that the brand headed?

[00:05:35] Cabot Paris AtoZ

[00:05:39] Hannah Scharf: yeah. So the brown headed cowbird is what's known as a generalist brood, parasite, meaning that there isn't one particular host that it specializes in. It's actually been documented to parasitize over 200 other species of birds. Not all of those successful. But so they, they parasitize a lot of other species, like you [00:06:00] might find them in Northern Cardinal nests.

[00:06:02] Sometimes, occasionally they'll parasitize Robbins or Catbirds, which will reject the cowbird egg. But overall most species actually accept Cabernet eggs. And birds are originally like a great Plains bird. They're called cowbirds because they they're insectivores and they really like to follow around big, like large herbivores mammals, like bison or or cows.

[00:06:23] And so they just follow those animals around and eat any of the bugs that kind of come out of the grass. They're mostly known for parasitizing species out there, like Dixie whistles. But now they're being just expanded. And they pretty much parasitize whatever they can.

[00:06:38] Grant Williams: I've I in, in their behavior, apart from following Boston around, are they, I'm trying to apply some in a context for maybe Australians or or those in Europe? Are they like a pipit or a wag tile or or a Blackbird? When they not [00:07:00] just hanging around the Boston looking for grasshoppers and whatnot are they a bird that will use shrubbery?

[00:07:08] Do I buy a social bird? Tell us a bit about what they do when they're not.

[00:07:14] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So a lot of the times you I definitely see them around cows a lot, but also I'll just see them if if there's like a large grass yard or even off the side of the road or something, you might see a couple of cupboards, just walking through the grass, picking out things to eat.

[00:07:29] And so usually they will be in groups. They won't just be alone. It might be a male and a couple of females, or it might be more than one male. Otherwise I don't really see them hanging out in shrubbery that much they might be on the ground or they might be high up in trees.

[00:07:44] And they from anecdotal experience, every time I go out in the yard and there's cowbirds, they immediately fly away. They seem more wary of me than say a warbler would. Although they're probably much easier [00:08:00] to find say like in your own neighborhood or. In more urban areas.

[00:08:04] Grant Williams: So they don't like seeing, like hanging around with you, Hannah.

[00:08:09] But you said they've been classified as expanding. So that would suggest to me, so tell me if I'm on the wrong track that they adapt very well to human habitation, that they lock it. When we disturb a habitat and change it, they can take advantage.

[00:08:30] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So you typically won't find cowbirds in deep forests, but since now we've carved up the forests and really fragmented these habitats.

[00:08:41] They now have more range to expand into. And so now, they have their sort of foraging areas, which might be an agricultural areas right next to these forests with birds that they might not have historically interacted with, but are interacting more with now,

[00:08:59] Grant Williams: is [00:09:00] that common amongst other Cabots?

[00:09:03] Do you know, like they all adaptable in that way or some of them far more specialized in the habitats that they will basic system.

[00:09:14] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, I'm not a hundred percent sure about the other cowbirds some of the other cowbirds are generalists and we also have some specialists cupboards as far as what what hosts they'll use.

[00:09:23] But as far as the habitats they use I believe there's, they're also mostly open area oriented versus like deep forest.

[00:09:34] Grant Williams: Okay. Let's talk a bit more about the relationship with the . The Prothonotary Wolf is a migratory species. So is the brand headed Cabot, also a migratory species.

[00:09:52] Hannah Scharf: They are somewhat migratory. So I believe more out in the Western United States, they might migrate south [00:10:00] out of some of those areas and other areas they'll actually stay residents. So it depends on which area of Canada or the United States they are. But they definitely do not migrate as far as with monetary warblers.

[00:10:13] Grant Williams: Okay. D do you know where they go? Will they be just looking for similar type of habitat? Do they need herds of bison or hurt or herds of domestic cattle to be able to move on mass? Like D do you think historically they would have followed the movement of the Boston across the gripe?

[00:10:37] Hannah Scharf: I think historically they, I think they would be somewhat tied to the bite. There, there may be a little bit more successful around those around the bison kind of oranges and everything. But as far as to specifically what areas they're migrating to, I'm not entirely sure. And I'm not sure that if there have been tracking studies [00:11:00] done specifically on CalWORKs but I think most of the regions they migrate out of our mountainous like out in the Western United States.

[00:11:07] And so it's probably just because it gets way too

[00:11:09] Grant Williams: cold. So it might be an altitudinal movement rather than than anything else. And that they adjust a Whiting to hold a welcoming party for the protonic Terry warbler when they come back from their trip to the to the mangroves of central America.

[00:11:29] Yeah. Fantastic. Okay. Your specialty is the behavior in the nest and the relationship with the house. So on, I'm wondering about the mating behavior pay bonds or anything like that with cabinets do they pair up, are they by monogamous or just give us an audio of what happens before the cheeks arrive?

[00:11:54] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, so it can vary a little bit. But for the most part cupboards [00:12:00] along with most other brew parasites are actually monogamous.

[00:12:04] Grant Williams: Okay. So did I defend a territory around their chosen ness? And do they Willow pay a Paris? AtoZ I number of ness of the host or is it. Is it one egg in that or two, two or three eggs into the one.

[00:12:24] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. The females actually move a lot throughout the day. So they have where they roost and they have their forging sites, which are out, in, in more open areas maybe out in agricultural spaces and then they actually will fly into the forests right before sunrise.

[00:12:39] So cabins are actually specific in that way where a lot of cuckoos might lay throughout the day. Calibers will only lay specifically right before sunrise before the host gets back to her nest and lays an egg. And so females have quite a large range that they'll occupy throughout the day.

[00:12:56] And as far as how much they specialized it, we don't have a ton of evidence [00:13:00] on that. It's super interesting. I would love for us to know more, but it seems some cowbirds might specialize a little bit more on which hosts they're like, but they usually will, parasitize at least a couple of different species of hosts, but at our sites here we know genetically because we take blood samples from the cupboard chicks and we can do genetic work on that.

[00:13:22] We know that there have been some females that have come year after year, parasitizing our warblers. And they actually seem like they, they like that specific area and they like that specific host, but they could also be parasitizing other hosts in the forest. There's plenty of other birds out there.

[00:13:37] So

[00:13:38] Grant Williams: do you focus. Your research on the females or have you got a pretty good handle on what the males are doing during the day?

[00:13:50] Hannah Scharf: So the females, I would love to study female Cabernet more because I think they're super interesting. They're just very hard [00:14:00] to study because like I said, they're very skiddish, so we can't really catch them in the forest.

[00:14:06] They are not really interested in playback that much. And if you set up a misnomer, they just fly away. They really are suspicious of us. So if we try to catch female cupboards to see what they're doing but one of the things that we do is we actually set up nest box traps.

[00:14:19] And so you have to get in the mindset of a female caliber and think okay, which nests, might she parasitize the next morning, what kind of scenes at the optimal time. What we do is we actually go out there before sunrise. So it's still mostly dark out. And you have a headlamp on, and you're trudging through the swamp trying to find an nest box.

[00:14:39] And we put this little trap in the nest box that essentially it had a little lever so that when the female Talbert jumps in, she hits this little this little perch and it will shut a trap door behind her. And so she gets there before the host gets there because she paralyzes before sunrise.

[00:14:55] And so that's before most birds are active. I was able to catch a female that way. [00:15:00] And it's really cool when you turn off your headlamp and it's like pitch dark, but there's just enough light where you can see the nest box. And so you can see this dark figure, come through the forest and she lands on the nest box, but she can't really quite remember exactly where the nest entrance is.

[00:15:14] So she's looking around a lot, she's I know what's here somewhere. And she actually took enough time trying to get to the nest where the warbler came back and the world was trying to attack her a little bit, but how birds are bigger than warblers. And so she didn't mind it all she got on that nest, she laid her egg and the trap deployed.

[00:15:32] So we were able to catch her and and tag her, but she didn't appear at any of our nest boxes again. Yeah they're tricky ones for sure.

[00:15:40] Grant Williams: I want to ask you in a minute to go through the whole process of the field work, that study age season and how you do it. But I don't think we covered off, do you know that Mrs.

[00:15:52] Calbert or probably she's, she sounds like she's pretty progressive lady. She's probably amazed. Is she visiting [00:16:00] several.

[00:16:11] Hannah Scharf: Sorry. I think he product cut out there a little bit.

[00:16:14] Grant Williams: Yeah, I think I think I did, but I think we're back aren't we?

[00:16:19] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. Yeah. I can hear you now. So yeah. Visiting several.

[00:16:24] Grant Williams: Yeah. Is it like in a day of the female Cabernet where before Dawn she's arrived at your nest box and deposited one egg, is she going off to lay another egg on the same day or is she I'm going to be repeating that on subsequent morning?

[00:16:50] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, so most birds can only lay one egg a day. That's all they really have the aptitude for, so she'll only be laying that one egg [00:17:00] that morning, but then she might be laying her next egg the very next day. Cowbirds can lay quite a few eggs. There are reports of up to 40 eggs in a season.

[00:17:10] So yeah, she's got a lot of work to do

[00:17:14] Grant Williams: well. Yeah, I'd never heard that before. I wonder. Do you know, is that common with other parasite parasitic birds? When I say parasol, I think of a last or a flavor, something that. Cookers that prolific in terms of their egg laying ability.

[00:17:31] Do you know?

[00:17:33] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, I know Cuckoo's can like quite a few eggs as well. I think there was actually like back in the day, there were two like British scientists that had a competition seeing how many eggs they could collect, but I don't remember what the number was, but I know that other brood parasites can be quite prolific as well.

[00:17:50] And the number of eggs that the way,

[00:17:51] Grant Williams: That's that's all happening for me. That's okay. Let's so we w we know it's many nests, the Does that mean that there's [00:18:00] multiple mating sessions happening with the Cabernet pair or does it all happen at the front end of the season? And then the eggs are just coming out day by day or is there, is the Mayo gotta be busy as well?

[00:18:16] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, the females should be able to store sperm somewhat, but I imagine that they probably made multiple times, he's trying to assure his his paternity. And so I'm sure it's not just the ones.

[00:18:29] Grant Williams: And is he aggressively defending a territory?

[00:18:36] Hannah Scharf: I don't think for the most part, they're not like like for the warblers, the males have these very specific territories where they nest and they're very aggressive guarding them.

[00:18:47] The cow birds don't have quite as set territories as breeding birds, I would say. But I think they have their typical spots that they like to go every day.

[00:18:57] Grant Williams: So I a Cabernet pair [00:19:00] are going to have to find many warbler peers to parasitize. I have a very successful, do you think with other species within the same range and I watching your Twitter you've put Robin eggs up and that Robbins reject them generally, but what others, like I'm trying to get an audio of in maybe a capital of the territory Ceasars of a couple of ICOs is.

[00:19:33] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So I can't remember the acreage is off the top of my head, but like I said, the females do move quite a bit throughout the day more than the males, because they're they're actually searching for nest for the most part. The, in the brown headed cowbird, as far as we know the males, aren't really helping the females out.

[00:19:48] The females are doing all the nest searching and all of that by themselves. There are other species of fruit parasites where it seems like males are a little bit more apt to [00:20:00] actually help females. Or I think it's been described in there's like a cuckoo species maybe where the male actually distracts the hosts where all the female goes in and lays for egg.

[00:20:10] But yeah,

[00:20:15] Grant Williams: I think we've covered off pretty much how they do what they do. And Let's talk about the process of collecting the data that you need in the field work. So the start of the season, what do you have to prepare? What do you set up? And then can you take us through week by week, day by day and what you're doing and I'm really interested how you record the data to make it easy to analyze at the end of the season.

[00:20:49] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So we have we. Put up nest boxes early in March. So that way, when the warblers get here, usually the males get here first and they set up their territories [00:21:00] and females come in and choose. And basically it's most important that those nest boxes get up so that there's something for them to prospect and want to nest in.

[00:21:08] Then we actually, we go out and we grease all of the, we have the nest boxes on these two poles that are taped together. And so we grease the bottom of the poles that things like raccoons can't climb up and get to the nest. It's not totally foolproof. I've had snakes climb up and still get into the nest and eat the entire brood.

[00:21:27] But for the most part, it works really well. We have very low rates of nest production. And so in those beginning stages, we go through and we check the nest from day to day. So the males will start out by putting just a little bit of Moss and the, in the nest box and the females seem to ultimately choose where the nest will go and she'll build it on herself using different mosses and things from the swamp.

[00:21:49] So she'll build that cup and then eventually she'll lay usually four to five eggs one a day. Thank you. Bake those for about 12 days. And then we've got chicks for about 10 days [00:22:00] before they fledge. And so as far as the data collection goes we usually for my projects, I try to get to the sites at least every other day to really see what's going on. We see if if there are any caliber decks, because sometimes the cupboards kind of mess up a little bit. They should optimally lay when there's at least one warbler egg in the nest and before she's incubating, but sometimes they're not quite that great or maybe they just don't have a lot of options.

[00:22:28] So a lot of times we might find just one egg in the nest and it's a Calvary day. And usually the FEMA warbler will abandon that nest because she hasn't started laying yet. And she knows it's not hers. And so depending on the experiment I moved Cabernets eggs around a lot to stimulate experimental parasitism.

[00:22:46] So that way I can actually make sure that any effects that I see aren't because of the choice of the brood parasite. So if there are certain nests that seem to get parasites more than others, or might be easier to find. And so that's our day to day. I [00:23:00] also catch all of the male and female warblers.

[00:23:03] So the males we catch through playback, we put up these big miss nets and we have this little ornament. That's just this this is bird shape. And we painted it to look like a profanity warbler. And so we play male song and he usually gets very interested in that and he wants to attack whatever males on his territory.

[00:23:22] And so we'll catch him in the miss net and basically put some bands on him. Take a little blood sample and then let him go. And the females we usually catch while they're incubating because only the females incubate. So we can actually just stick a bag quickly over the entrance. She'll fly out into it and we just catch her that way.

[00:23:41] And so we give all the warblers what's known as a pit tag. So we have these little data loggers on the back of each nest box. They're RFID recorders and it's the same technology if you go to a store and if you've ever walked through the door and you'll get [00:24:00] technology.

[00:24:02] Yeah. So basically any time a warbler with a pit tag lands into a nest entrance we get a log of who it was, what nest box they were at and what time it

[00:24:11] Grant Williams: was and how long they were there. Cause it, it records in and out.

[00:24:15] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, so we can't we can't quite tell whether they're going in or out because it's only the

[00:24:20] Grant Williams: one proximity.

[00:24:23] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:24:24] Hannah Scharf: But it'll record it'll give us a recording at the bird as longer than their eight seconds and then it'll keep recording. So we also get a rough estimation of how long they're sitting there.

[00:24:34] Grant Williams: Yeah. And then you can draw some inferences about what they're doing. Cause I don't just sit on the top of the box.

[00:24:40] No. Can we just go back to the the eggs for a minute? W what does the warbler egg look like in comparison to a brown headed Cabernet?

[00:24:53] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So the warbler eggs are a little bit smaller than the Cabernet eggs. Usually, although there's some variation Cabernet eggs, [00:25:00] can, I've seen it a couple of Cabernets that are actually even smaller than the workload eggs.

[00:25:04] But usually they're smaller. Presented Terry warbler eggs have this more reddish hue to them. So they have mostly like white, maybe like off-white beige color backgrounds, and then they have these reddish spots on them. And usually those red spots are maybe concentrated on the blunter end of the egg.

[00:25:25] But the spotting and the exact size can vary from female to female. They all have to have their special, eggs.

[00:25:33] Grant Williams: So sorry, Hannah. That the point of that was just to find out where the cabbage egg mix. And the, it sounds like they're not really there. It's similar enough so that the warbler doesn't know but the warbler isn't isn't a great examiner of its own eggs.

[00:25:54] Is that what, what makes the Robbins reject the cabin? [00:26:00]

[00:26:01] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So we don't think that cupboards are really of any species because they they are such generalist parasites, their eggs do actually look a lot like some other eggs Cardinal eggs, for example, they look a lot alike. And even I can sometimes occasionally be confused between a planetary warbler egg and a Cabernet, because even though the Calbert eggs are larger and they're usually more of a blue backgrounds and then brown spots, at least at the sites that we are at like I said, the size can vary and the colors can vary.

[00:26:33] And I've occasionally had to have a second glance at them with the Robbins. They. I don't entirely know why exactly. Robin might have, more of a a propensity to reject the null warbler. It could be that Robins are a lot bigger than blink grasp the caliber tags and remove them from the nest.

[00:26:57] Whereas Prothonotary warblers [00:27:00] probably cannot. So even if a monetary warbler were to recognize a caliber day, whether it could actually remove that egg is another question.

[00:27:09] Grant Williams: What, how often are you catching the cabinets, the warblers in and out of the nest all the.

[00:27:16] During the season, but the cabin may only turn up once. I guess what I'm wanting to know is the key to your research understanding what what one female Cabot is inflicting on one warbler nest, or are you needing to monitor thousands of wobbliness and then try and sort out which females which female Cabots are prying on those.

[00:27:54] Those different nests. Like what's the focus, the woodblock or [00:28:00] the Cabot?

[00:28:01] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, I would say most of my research focus has been more on the warblers just because there are a lot easier to study. I've really been itching to catch more cupboards, but actually the site where we know that females are showing up from year to year, that has more of a stable group of female cupboards that are parasitizing has very mysteriously not gotten any Paris's in the past two years.

[00:28:23] When in the past it's been a very reliable scores of Calvert eggs, where I was getting, like at least 20th season. And the powers are still there. There's actually a farm that's right next to the forest. You can hear the cows mooing, like from, the warbler territories.

[00:28:38] And the cupboards are there. I hear them occasionally in the forest, but for whatever reason they have stopped Paris. And so I haven't really gotten a great chance to start catching those birds. Again,

[00:28:51] Grant Williams: it sounds a little bit like, he hears me the non-scientist supplying my my logic.

[00:28:58] It sounds like the [00:29:00] cabinets are deliberately not competing with the warblers for food. The warblers are fading in one distinct habitat type and that the cabins are moving out. And just coming back to the warbler territory to drop the eggs. Is that a fair summary?

[00:29:21] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, so they, yeah, they definitely the cupboards are not really in the forest to feed at all there, they're just there for the nests for the most part.

[00:29:30] It could be that they're not parasitizing at that site anymore because I personally for my experiments have been moving Calbert around a lot. And so if they're coming back and actually noticing that their egg is gone which we do have evidence that cowbirds are actually coming back to check on their nest success that they're like, whoa, Hey, this is no longer a good source of, nest to parasites.

[00:29:52] And that they've just not, they're not doing it anymore.

[00:29:54] Grant Williams: But it's just a question, so sorry. That raises a [00:30:00] question about whether the methodology would need to be altered, probably you not want to be going to be doing your PhD for another five years, I would assume, but maybe your post-doc, if you want to keep focusing on these two species in postdoc work, you might need to have a control site where you don't move cabaret eggs.

[00:30:26] And then I try and mirror that site somewhere else where you do move eggs. And then see if that behavior is repeated in the second or third year where this group of female Cabernets stop using those those nests in that patch. I'm wondering what. What you have. Oh, what have you actually been able to determine? What can you say for sure. You [00:31:00] now know about either warblers or cabinets.

[00:31:06] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So as far as the, queuing and other success I personally haven't thrown that experiment, but that experiment has been done before in my system, by other researchers.

[00:31:14] And so we know that they cue in on their success. But some of the sites might be more specific than others. As far as, sometimes the site that I'm talking about, the cupboards are very specific, they come year after year and they seem more invested in that specific site.

[00:31:27] So we do know that they are definitely keeping track of their eggs. And moving them around experimentally definitely has affects on their What the pair of size and also the success of the offspring. So at the offspring, how successful the Cabernets will be more likely to parasitize in that area.

[00:31:43] But as far as what I've done with all of my research, I have looked at different aspects of so if we want to go back to the topic of recognition like I said, even if the warblers recognize the egg, the Calbert egg, it's maybe not super likely that they could actually remove it because they have, [00:32:00] just those little insects.

[00:32:01] Bill's and they, a huge egg also they're nesting in a cavity. So they only got that one entrance to, to dump it out of. And also there's the risk that if they try to puncture that Cabernet, they might insure their own eggs or they might make a mistake and they might accidentally toss one of their own eggs out and not the cowbird egg.

[00:32:20] But one of the experiments that I did with the warblers was to see if like one way to see if they recognize the Cabernet at all. So what I did was I put my medic and nonmedical eggs into their nest. And then I also had a control where I didn't add anything to their nest. And I caught them again, two hours later, the incubating female.

[00:32:38] So I gave her, the egg and then caught her to two hours later. And I took a blood sample from her to test the level of corticosteroids. Which is a hormone that's released in response to a stressor. So it's cortisol in humans and it's if you've encountered this big stressor your cortisol or in burns, your corticosterone levels [00:33:00] will rise.

[00:33:00] And that kind of helps you to deal with that and deal with that stressor or, deal with this very stressful situation and have a higher probability of surviving it. And I actually, sorry, go ahead.

[00:33:12] Grant Williams: If a non-owner fella just is listening or watching henna, tell them what mimetic is your mimetic eggs.

[00:33:22] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So then my medic eggs are much closer. They're much closer in color to the warbler eggs and a nonmedical egg. We use the blue egg, which is completely, the warbler learnings are what they age with, like red spots. And then we put a nine my medic, which was blue. And then the, my medic was, much more similar looking to the worker egg, which was a beige color.

[00:33:43] Grant Williams: Yeah. In, in your lab at the university of Illinois, the cow book lab, Is the team cooperating so that the data that you're getting on warblers is feeding in and that, and you're getting data on cabbage, but is there somebody [00:34:00] else doing different work on cab birds and that you're pooling it all to get a better understanding in general of these two species and their nesting behavior, or I, you specifically at attempting to answer one or two specific things, cause it sounds like it's very difficult to tie one thing down just simply because of the way the cab birds beehive.

[00:34:33] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So I realized I should have said the results of that experiment just real quickly. I didn't find any differences in corticosterone between the females that got my medic versus non my medic versus no egg addition. So it seems at least that's another line of evidence that points towards they actually don't recognize the cowbird egg.

[00:34:52] And it's probably because of something called evolutionary lag, which is they've only been parasitized by the cupboard somewhat recently. And so they [00:35:00] just haven't had the time to have responses to adapt to that. And as far as other research in the lab so there's been a lot of research in this system.

[00:35:11] And coming from different angles. I have a lab mate, Nick Anson, CIN, who actually has also studied the warblers and the cupboards at the same time that I've been here, but he's studied more of the the caliber nestling competition aspect and, exactly what they're doing there with some nest cameras and then also different physiological measures.

[00:35:30] So as far as putting the pieces together yet, it is very incremental as far as, okay. We can answer, this one very specific thing. That gives us some more information, but I'm lucky to work in a system that's had years of research done. And so we know a decent amount about what's happening in the system that we can move off of.

[00:35:51] Whereas a lot of other brood parasites have almost no research done on that whatsoever.

[00:35:55] Grant Williams: You mentioned that Nick is focusing on [00:36:00] competition between the nestlings. So that's something that. People will always think about with bird parasitism and that they are cookers, for instance, generally some species are injecting the other nestlings, if possible, other, otherwise they just dwarf them and out-compete them for food.

[00:36:23] There's two points about competition. I want to ask you about, so it, if you know about it, can you talk about the competition within the nest, but I'm noticed I went to city again because we don't have cupboards here and we have have cookers. You have cookers in the same geographic overlay as the cabin.

[00:36:41] Adult cow, birds and cookers. Competing for resources or for space like essentially competing for hosts or are there no cookers who are targeting the warbler. Give us a a [00:37:00] bit of an idea about the nestlings first, and then let's talk about the adult beds.

[00:37:05] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So for brown had a cowbirds and just cupboards in general, a common misconception is that cowbirds toss the eggs out of the nest or the nestlings out of the nest.

[00:37:14] I see this all the time on Facebook pages where people are like, oh, I saw this weird egg in the nest and someone comments, like it's a coop, where it's a Calvert and they'll toss the nestlings out of the nest. They never do that. They are nest mate shares. They actually do better for the most part with other nestlings in the nest.

[00:37:29] And I also want to point out if you ever find a Calber day you like if you're in the United States and you ever find a caliber deg and an S that's, in your backyard or something, it's actually illegal for you to remove it because cupboards are native species and they're protected by the migratory bird act.

[00:37:42] So you can't ever remove Calbert eggs or. Yeah, the calibers are an estimate shares. And like I said, usually the sort of optimal situation is there in the nest with nestlings that are near the same size, but a little bit smaller. So warblers are they're not completely dwarfed [00:38:00] by the caliber, but they're definitely smaller.

[00:38:02] And so the cowbirds actually do better when they have a few warbler nest mates because the whirlwind nest mates help stimulate the parents to bring a lot of food to the nest. And then the cowbird can actually intercept a lot of those feedings from the warblers, because the Calber are up a little bit higher, they've got a bigger gate, they, they're more towards the front and so they can actually get a lot of the feeds from the parents.

[00:38:26] So I think, does that answer your first one? Oh

[00:38:28] Grant Williams: yeah, definitely. I think that's a really good summation of. Of how things happen and that there's, that's a real significant difference about the cupboard and the cooker in general. And I've done think old cookers are the same, but the, but I a pair of cabaret ads finding a wobbliness does not mean that it's a catastrophe for the, for that pair.

[00:38:54] It just means that the likelihood of success for that season [00:39:00] is going to be a little bit less. Like you, they might get a 40% success rate rather than a 80 or 90% success rate from what they have lied. It's so Don height, the Cabot, I think is the message, isn't it? Yeah,

[00:39:16] Hannah Scharf: there, as far as prepare sites go, they're one of the nicest, because a lot of Pooka species toss out.

[00:39:22] For example, did I break up? Okay. No, I'm still here. You froze for a second. Just making sure. A lot of so there's other prepare sites like honey guides, which actually have a little hook at the end of their bill that they use to destroy the eggs or like blood in the other nestlings to death.

[00:39:35] So cabinets are definitely one of the nicest brood parasites. And then you were asking about cuckoos. So we do have cuckoos that live around here. I've seen yellow billed cuckoos around a lot, but they are not the sort of obligate brood, parasite, cuckoos that you're thinking of. So obligate brood, parasite, that just means that they their only method of reproduction is brute parasitism.

[00:39:56] They never actually care for their own offspring. The cookers around here [00:40:00] actually build their own nests and take care of their young, but they might parasite each other's nests.

[00:40:04] Grant Williams: That's that's interesting. And for international listeners in Australia, Cookers are the same as Hannah's calling cookies.

[00:40:13] That it's just our exits, so we don't spell it differently or anything like that. We're just lazy with our mouths. What is that cookie species that you have in your study area? HANA?

[00:40:25] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, they're yellow billed cuckoos. And yeah, I hear them around a lot. I see them occasionally. They're a little bit secretive and I believe we also have black billed cuckoos in the area, but I have not.

[00:40:36] I haven't actually seen them around

[00:40:39] Grant Williams: now, not being familiar with the black build cooker. I'm going to think that they eject eggs or nestlings that the cooker cheek has that regular cooker behavior. Do you know, is that.

[00:40:56] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, so they yeah, black belt and yellow bode cuckoos do [00:41:00] raise their own offspring.

[00:41:01] They build their own nest razor Springs. I think they, yeah, they do. I believe there's a council. They might parasitize each other a little bit, but

[00:41:08] Grant Williams: not that they don't have any

[00:41:11] Hannah Scharf: objection

[00:41:12] Grant Williams: behavior. Okay. I need to look more into that to see whether maybe north American cookers are substantially different to to European cookers, because we've all seen that kind of video where the where the cookie chick will either throw an egg or a nestling out using it back and whatnot.

[00:41:32] Pretty amazing gymnastics going on within the nest. Look it's off the Cabernet topic again, but are there are there cookers species. Operating in your patch that Paris AtoZ the

[00:41:51] Hannah Scharf: Nope. We don't have any any cocoons that are parasitizing other species here. Yep. It's the only [00:42:00] obligate repair site again, meaning the only bird that reproduces solely via a brewed parasitism is the brown headed. Cowbird that's the only one we have here.

[00:42:11] Grant Williams: Okay. Can we go back a little bit to your to your field work or really you'll legwork?

[00:42:18] What. Are you using, you mentioned that you're using the trap with the nest, the bag or an automatic lead, which is trapping the birds. You mentioned that you using miss nets. Are you using any camera traps acoustic recorders and things like that within your lab to broaden the the types of data that you are collecting on either of the species?

[00:42:50] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So for the traps and everything that I'm using, essentially, I just do it just to ban the birds and get a blood sample. So that way I can actually do genetic work and [00:43:00] see if there's any any warblers in the nest that are extra pair, meaning that they were fathered by someone. Not the father that's taking care of them.

[00:43:08] But like I said the other graduate student in my lab who has worked down here and Nick, and since then, he has done a lot of camera work with the cowbirds. And I believe we're using some other methods in the lab. I have a few other lab mates that are using I believe it's not GPS, but I think it's it's like radio tracking.

[00:43:27] Some of the birds I believe another lab made is maybe using some more cameras. So we definitely have a diversity of tracking methods that are going on in the lab.

[00:43:37] Grant Williams: It's really interesting to know how different teams are utilizing the tech and adding to that great store of of knowledge the blood samples that you take.

[00:43:49] Are you also, apart from genetic typing and matching, as you mentioned, are you doing any health analysis at, or is [00:44:00] it only the steroidal? And then the genetic information that you're after?

[00:44:05] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, so far I haven't done any sort of other yeah. Like looking at like blood parasites or things like that.

[00:44:12] I haven't done that kind of work yet. Yeah, mostly I use the blood for genetics and then also to help sex the checks because we can't actually tell the difference between male and female warblers male and female cowbirds the males are usually bigger than the females. But still it's better to have that blood sample to make sure that, that's the sex of the.

[00:44:35] Grant Williams: Have you gone far enough down the road yet with your genetic work to have any interesting discoveries or D have you worked at any interesting relationships within the population of Cabernet in your patch?

[00:44:54] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, so I haven't done genetic work with the cowbirds yet. I had just used the [00:45:00] blood samples for sexing so far.

[00:45:01] And so that was actually in a fledging experiment that I've done where I had the cupboards and the warblers had those pit tags. So I actually knew when they fledged. And so one thing that I found is that if you're a warbler and the nest with a coward, you actually fledge at an older age, then if you're a warbler without a coward, and it's probably because you're suffering these sort of growth defects, you're not growing as quickly because you have this huge competition with

[00:45:27] Grant Williams: yeah.

[00:45:27] Very effective competition. Absolutely. That's really interesting. How many days do you think their delight in fledging?

[00:45:34] Hannah Scharf: They were delayed. I believe the effect size was about half a day with the ages that they were fledging at.

[00:45:42] Grant Williams: Okay. With that kind of experiment and.

[00:45:46] It can we in a minute, maybe talk about how you design an experiment like that. But I met, I imagined that you need to repeat that in different seasons because it's [00:46:00] birds, the nestlings grow. You can't go back and repeat it, unless that the occupants of that nurse that bliss, that holla or that niche books rise, a subsequent clutch.

[00:46:14] So it, December. Make it difficult for you to draw con conclusions or do you just have to be satisfied with making observations?

[00:46:27] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, so that the fledging experiment took course over the years of 2020 and 2021. So that actually wouldn't did account for multiple seasons and something that was interesting was we hadn't really different sex ratios between those two years.

[00:46:42] Because if you're, if you're a field biologist, that every year is different as far as the weather and things, there's so many different variables that can change. And that was one interesting thing that I'm not entirely sure what the cause of that was.

[00:46:55] But just an interesting variation. But yeah There's [00:47:00] other data that I've been gathering for several years, I'm on the warblers. Some of that is just to get a larger sample size. And then, like you said, some of it is just so you can have the data that is more generalizable and not just specific to a certain year.

[00:47:14] But sometimes experiments can be done in a single year. And you can feel, at least somewhat confident with those those results that that would be repeatable.

[00:47:23] Grant Williams: Hannah, I just might take this opportunity to let the people who are watching know that you're welcome to make a comment or ask a question if there's things that you desperately want to know, and that I'm not asking, feel free to interject yourself because.

[00:47:45] I think we've got, are you the world's expert? On on Prothonotary warblers and brown headed cabinets. Is there anybody else that can rival your expertise HANA?

[00:47:58] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. I don't know if I'm the world [00:48:00] expert, because there are several researchers that have worked in the system. And actually I've learned a lot from them.

[00:48:05] Like one of my committee members Wendy shell ski, and actually her husband, Jeff Hoover have done a ton of work down here. And he actually was one of the researchers that worked a lot with the mafia hypothesis down here. So

[00:48:18] Grant Williams: Let me stop you there because I was of course being facetious because research in ornithology is always a process of building on the people that have been working on these species or in these habitats before.

[00:48:33] Tell us about the mafia theory.

[00:48:37] Hannah Scharf: Yes, I knew, I think you mentioned it like very briefly in the planetary warbler episode and mafia hypothesis is something that. It's just, it's the coolest thing. Everyone likes to talk about it. So essentially the mafia hypothesis is a way for cowbirds to potentially and force hosts to accept their egg.

[00:48:59] [00:49:00] Even if the host recognizes it as a parasitic egg. So the mafia hypothesis, there's also another hypothesis that's called the farming hypothesis. So if if a caliber missed the nest this sort of window to parasitize the nest it can destroy the nest and then make that, host readiness to have another nesting cycle.

[00:49:21] And then the cowbird can actually parasitize that nest on the second goal, right? So that's a farming hypothesis. The mafia hypothesis is actually different and that the Calbert parasites is in the nest, the host removes it. Then the cupboard destroys the nest. Not, particularly to personalize it again, but to enforce host acceptance.

[00:49:41] So that the next time the host gets a Cabernet, get things, last time my entire, nest got destroyed. This time maybe I'll just raise the cowbird and, maybe one or two of my own nestlings will get out competed, but I'll still have more success than if I remove it. And so the experiment that was done down [00:50:00] here was with experimental sort of manipulations of removing cowbird eggs.

[00:50:06] What was found is that the nest work Halberd eggs got removed were predated at higher rates than nests that had Cabernets that stayed, or, nest that never got cowered eggs. And so it's the thought that maybe the cupboards are coming back. And so they see that their egg is gone and they just destroy the whole

[00:50:23] Grant Williams: mass.

[00:50:23] How often do you think that the the mafia technique is employed by Cabernets? Is it, do they all do it if they've had a failure or is it are only some portions of the population that do it?

[00:50:41] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. So from my own experience, it's probably somewhat of it might be somewhat dependent on the population of cowbirds or, it might be specific to some cowbirds because, like I said, for my experiments, I've been moving Calbert eggs around a lot.

[00:50:58] And I can't think of [00:51:00] specific nests where I actually remove the Cabernet egg where the whole nest got predated or destroyed. And I'm actually working in some of the same sites that study was done. So it might be a behavior that's a little bit more specific to, a certain group of cowbirds then a behavior that's really done by every single coward.

[00:51:20] Grant Williams: Do you think I'm fascinated about how it would be passed on and within say within a population or between generations. So do you have a view on whether. Would be a learned behavior or something that is innate.

[00:51:40] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. It could definitely have somewhat of a learning component. We've definitely cupboards multiple female cupboards or riding to a nest.

[00:51:50] We know that there, there could be some social learning where younger females are learning from older females about which host might be appropriate or, even like the timing [00:52:00] of Lang. And so it could be, it could very potentially be a behavior that is maybe learned from one caliber to another.

[00:52:07] But we just don't know enough about it to really say for sure.

[00:52:11] Grant Williams: Okay. I just want to digress for just a minute. If you don't mind had a you mentioned in a geographical term, you said down here now being. In Australia and looking at a map of the U S I think Illinois is up there but you flip the way we talk about geography.

[00:52:32] I think don't you in that? If you're at the north, your down, down there, and if you're in the south, it's like up there, is that right?

[00:52:41] Hannah Scharf: I think I'm saying down here, because so the university of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I'm based is actually mid Illinois. And I'm working in Southern Illinois where there's, swamps and forests because actually most of central Illinois is

[00:52:56] Grant Williams: so you have the same.[00:53:00]

[00:53:00] So you have the same perspective that we do when we look at a map, cause I'm down in the south of Australia and we're down the bottom, we're down here and. Queensland Northern territory, the tropics out there. So just this wasn't sure if that was the tents that you were that we, that you were using, you're down in the swamp in Illinois, actually people may not have listened or seen the conversation I had with Jared hitching about the Prothonotary warbler on world Margaret tree, bird day that you spent a lot of time in swamp starchy.

[00:53:39] Cause that's where the warblers liked to be.

[00:53:42] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. Just during the summer though.

[00:53:45] Grant Williams: Yeah. Because in the winter they gone let's let's ashame pay. Haven't seen that conversation. Where do the Prothonotary warbler go? I know we briefly talked about it and I glossed over it, but the, your population is one that [00:54:00] is extends into Canada, but.

[00:54:03] How long do they hang around and where do they go?

[00:54:08] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. The birds get here. Usually the first males might start arriving like at the beginning of April and then they'll move out. I think one time I left some RFID lagers up and the batteries ended up actually lasting quite a while. And so I actually caught a few birds on the RFID loggers at the end of August.

[00:54:26] They might stay, maybe I would predict maybe early September. And, but for the most part, they're moving out by then. And they're, they're much more quiet. They're not singing as much. You don't really notice them.

[00:54:40] Grant Williams: And they. Damn as far as I think, Costa Rica belays, is that Sarah?

[00:54:49] Yeah.

[00:54:49] Hannah Scharf: They usually, I think a lot of them go to Columbia, so yeah they moved pretty compared to the Calverts. They move much further south. Yeah. Did you, there was a really cool eBird [00:55:00] report from maybe a month ago of a male persona Terry whirlwind that was actually spotted near Antarctica.

[00:55:06] Grant Williams: Oh yeah, that's right. Actually, I all include that in the when I get around to writing up the webpage, but yeah I'll put that in. I think it was I don't know how had plus to add how to care, but it was certainly in the heading into the sub Antarctic zone of south America. Probably caught in a in a storm of something.

[00:55:26] But yeah, lovely Vagrant record.

[00:55:29] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. Or maybe he just got, confused about which way to go. He thought he was going north, but actually going south. I have to admit, I was a little bit happy that I didn't see bands on him because if he was one of the birds that, that I have banded and known, I would have been pretty sad.

[00:55:44] Grant Williams: And no records either for on your RF RFID tags for that season it does raise all kinds of issues or all kinds of questions about what we don't actually know about Margaret tree birds, because [00:56:00] some of the, some of these Rangers may be far more extensive than than we realized, but it needs people who are able to recognize the birds and then are interested enough to.

[00:56:12] Give a toss about what they're doing to actually make a record. And I'm not looking, it's not scientific analysis, but I do a show about birds, this stuff, but then when I look at my stats, south America and Africa are the places where people are not listening. Now that probably tells me that the general populations there are probably not taking too much notice.

[00:56:40] Birds that around them. And if they are, they're probably not making records of it and communicating it to people like yourself. Whereas, in Europe and parts of Australia, obviously north America, people are keenly aware of what's around them. What's going on [00:57:00] and using a. Et cetera.

[00:57:03] Hannah Scharf: So I think I would say I think the people there are probably also really noticing what's going on.

[00:57:10] I think they are, lots of people there probably do know the bird, the local birds, and, what's going on. It may just be more about access that's

[00:57:18] Grant Williams: right. It's a disconnect of with the technology and the and the reporting back of records yet. I wasn't I wasn't trying to say they don't know the birds around them.

[00:57:29] It's just that there's a disconnect between the information that is held in those communities and those populations and actually the academic community and the the formal birdwatching community, which is keeping amazing records around the world. So that prompts me to ask you about citizen science and cupboards.

[00:57:55] and your lab, is there any [00:58:00] signal? Citizen science projects going on that run in tandem or crossover with your, where canner.

[00:58:08] Hannah Scharf: I don't currently have a citizen science aspect to the research that I'm doing as far as I don't have any sort of I'm not using like eBird reports or something like that.

[00:58:20] I definitely love connecting with the public. Like I, I love using my Twitter to try and share my experiences and oh, this is, the world through the eyes of a field biologist. And, you might never get to see that's contents or birds is, really up close and the hands and stuff like that.

[00:58:34] So I definitely true do try to connect with people that way. And as far as other members in the lab, I don't currently know of anyone who, who is using those sort of like public eBird reports or something like that. But I would say that we definitely are really interested in outreach and some of us can give a lot of talks or, are really active on Twitter.

[00:58:56] And so we really like connecting that way. [00:59:00]

[00:59:01] Grant Williams: What's the conservation status of the brown headed cowbird

[00:59:06] Hannah Scharf: yeah. So Carol birds are least concerned. Most bird species are actually there, there was that that paper that came out, I don't know, maybe it was a year or two ago that, most bird species are declining.

[00:59:17] We've lost quite a few birds in the last couple of decades, but as far as cowbirds go, we're not particularly concerned about them. As a species like they're doing pretty well,

[00:59:27] Grant Williams: something that we've talked about a lot on the show and with the focus on world marquetry bird day just a matter of wakes back do Cabernets suffer from bird strike as matching.

[00:59:41] Many of the other Margaret tree species are you anecdotally aware of them being significant victims of collisions with buildings and interference with light at night and all those issues that we are all becoming increasingly aware of?

[00:59:59] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. I [01:00:00] anecdotally I don't think that they probably are more at risk for those sorts of things.

[01:00:06] We've actually done a bird strike survey on a university of Illinois campus where we volunteers have been walking around buildings and actually picking up, identifying the birds and then we're also been collecting them to, for, to use the specimens. And so a lot of those. Have been like migratory, warblers.

[01:00:25] There's been a lot of things like woodpeckers or, like thrushes. But I don't actually remember if we've had any cowbird windows strikes.

[01:00:34] Grant Williams: Okay. That's good news. Hannah, can I ask you a couple of questions I like to ask all my guests would you call yourself a bird nerd?

[01:00:44] Hannah Scharf: I would call myself a bird nerd. I do think I'm a burden or, yeah.

[01:00:47] Grant Williams: So do you go birdwatching for pleasure as well as for your academic pursuits?

[01:00:55] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, I don't think I'm quite as much of a birder as a lot of [01:01:00] other people are. I'm more of a I'm not someone who like, hears about a rare bird.

[01:01:05] That's two hours away and like immediately hop in the car and go and see it. But I really do love I'm super into walking. Like I love to just go out on walks like multiple times a day. And so I'm really aware of the birds that are around me and I like to passively bird watch that way.

[01:01:21] But as far as the, like counting, the birds that I see, or like being super up-to-date on my life list I'm a little bit lacking in those areas.

[01:01:30] Yeah.

[01:01:30] Grant Williams: So you can't tell me your life number and you don't have a a yard list with a title that you're maintaining.

[01:01:38] Yeah.

[01:01:38] Hannah Scharf: I don't know my number off the top of my head, but I have some, some birds that I've been excited to see, and I have birds that I'd really love to see, but

[01:01:46] Grant Williams: That leads us into the bat list. Bird. What's your bucket list? Bird.

[01:01:49] Hannah Scharf: I would really love to see some cuckoos honestly like I said, I've seen the cuckoos around here, but like seeing a bread parasitic cookie or I think would be really cool.

[01:01:58] Most of them are very [01:02:00] gorgeous birds. If I could see like just a massive common cuckoo, like nestling, in a Reed warbler nest, that's almost like collapsing. I would be pretty happy.

[01:02:13] Grant Williams: I think in on world migratory bird day, I think it was 20, 21. I don't think it was 2020 that far back.

[01:02:21] I spoke with Terry Townsend who is based in in China. And we talked about Swifts and cookers, Eurasian cookers, which migrate into Berlin, Beijing each year. And they were the school kids around there and get very familiar with some of their cookers and they're doing banding and tagging and whatnot.

[01:02:44] And one that he gave me a picture of. And I'll share it with you on Twitter was I don't know if you've ever heard about the naming of the of the of the target. I think in London that. Boaty McBoatface public competition. And that was rejected well [01:03:00] at around the same time, one of their cookers was flappy muck flat is something.

[01:03:04] So I've got a picture of him. So you can I think it was a him you can check out that you're that Eurasian cocoa, and maybe a trip to China is on the cards for you. And you could you could do a bit of cross cultural and species sharing of information because the no cabins in China are there,

[01:03:25] Hannah Scharf: no, there aren't yet in China, it has a lot of the, they have several brewed parasitic.

[01:03:30] Cuckoos not even just the one cause here it's, the only brood parasite we have and this location is just the brown headed Calbert. And so it would be super cool to see, an area where you've got like multiple, obligate brood parasites working at 10.

[01:03:44] Grant Williams: What's your bucket-list location to to go burning.

[01:03:49] Actually, because you're probably going to apply your research, Brian, to it, to that question as well. Have you got a bucket list research [01:04:00] location as well as maybe a birding for pleasure location?

[01:04:05] Hannah Scharf: I don't know if I have a bucket list research location. I think that would be dependent on the birds.

[01:04:12] But I think somewhere where I could see like a lot of endemic bird species, like New Zealand would be super.

[01:04:20] Grant Williams: Yeah, New Zealand is pretty amazing. And actually that whole all the Pacific islands and whatnot have such a specializations amongst groups, my complexes, I don't ever get the terminology.

[01:04:33] Hannah. That's where I get people like you to talk about it.

[01:04:36] Hannah Scharf: Yeah. Australia would be really cool too. I would love to see, I would love to see wild parrots. We actually the Carolina parakeet actually apparently had a range that extended into Southern Illinois. So if it wasn't extinct, maybe I would be seeing it.

[01:04:50] But somewhere where I could see parents doing their thing would be so cool.

[01:04:55] Grant Williams: HANA does that mean you haven't listened to the Carolina parakeet episode of the bird [01:05:00] emergency now? I

[01:05:01] Hannah Scharf: don't think I

[01:05:01] Grant Williams: have Tut. We did talk an awful lot about the historical range of the of the Carolina hurricanes.

[01:05:08] Chicken out you to deal listening. Have you got a favorite piece of equipment that you use when you're out in.

[01:05:15] Hannah Scharf: Favorite piece of equipment? I'm not sure. I love writing the rain notebooks because I have dropped them multiple times in the water and they turned out fine. I actually had a field tech one time wash his, like I went through the washer and dryer and it ended up perfectly fine.

[01:05:32] So as a field biologist, having a way to record data, that's not going to immediately turn to mush if you drop it in the water is really great. Other than that, yeah, I love having my phone on me so I can take pictures, of interesting things when I see them, because another really cool thing about Southern Illinois, there's such a diversity of like frogs and snakes and turtles.

[01:05:53] And I love to, be able to identify them when I'm out in the field. But other than that, I'm not sure if I have anything super [01:06:00] specific that I have on me. I always carry filament tape on me, and so that's it's always really helpful to repair things if I need to, because it's a really strong type of tape.

[01:06:11] So that's also one thing I probably always carry on me

[01:06:15] Grant Williams: in this part of the world. We call that gaffer tape. And I'm interested in that right in the rain notebook that went through the washing machine the physical items survived, but did any of the data on those pages survive?

[01:06:30] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, it was all written in pencil, so it looked perfectly.

[01:06:34] Grant Williams: That is amazing. That is amazing. Never actually handled one. That's something for me to look forward to there, Hannah. I wonder if you've got a bucket list project because you're, you have to have a multi-season approach. So are you looking to. Extend the cowbird and Prothonotary warbler work [01:07:00] a lot further, or would you like to maybe switch tacks and find a research project on the Norfolk island parakeet or or the key area in New Zealand or get on the kakapo risk recovery team.

[01:07:16] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, I'm not entirely sure what the future holds for me. If I'll keep working in this system for a post-doc or, like future research or not. It's certainly a great system to work in because I don't have to nest search. I just have nest boxes. So if you're a researcher listening and you have to nest search, I really feel for you.

[01:07:34] And I'm so glad that I don't have to do it. And that's just great birds. We can bother them multiple times a day at the nest to check on it or fix something and they don't abandon when the males and females are sexually dimorphic, so we can actually tell them apart.

[01:07:47] There's just really a lot to love about the warblers. I've built up, a lot of data on their movements that I'm really interested in looking at. But if I really could, I've always wanted to work a little bit more with the Calvins, [01:08:00] but like I said, they are a hard bird to really catch and study at least where I'm at.

[01:08:05] So if I can have every female caliber and pit tagged and then see what their movements are, and if there's like social learning between them where younger females are, following older females or something like that, or, when they're checking up on their nest or their eggs or something, that would be so cool.

[01:08:18] I would really love to have that data.

[01:08:20] Grant Williams: I just wanted to draw people's attention to your Twitter feed, which is really cool. What what's your Twitter handle? Hannah? Cause it's some, it's not really. Easy is it because you've got the underscore at the end?

[01:08:34] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, I guess there's too many Hannah Scharffs.

[01:08:36] So I couldn't have a really nice tidy Twitter handle. My, my Twitter handle is Hannah. My first name, H a N a H underscore Scharf, S C H a R F and then another underscore at the end.

[01:08:49] Grant Williams: I'm going to make it really easy for people, Hannah. I'll create this for you later on the bird [01:09:00] Twitter that will find that will take you to Hannah's Twitter and you can you can check it out.

[01:09:07] Only two more questions, Hannah, and they're basically versions of the same one. It's a bit, which is the better bird, the brown headed Cabot or the warbler.

[01:09:21] Hannah Scharf: Oh my gosh. It's like picking between my two children. I think it's so funny that I study probably one of the most charismatic bird species. And then simultaneously one of the most hated bird species.

[01:09:33] I had someone ask me out Twitter the other day. They were like, Prothonotary warblers are popping up all over my Twitter. What does everyone love about them? And it's just, I don't know. It's there. They're beautiful. And there's these habitat specialists, when, so they're a treat to see and they're easy to identify.

[01:09:50] And so everyone just loves the proprietary warblers or if there's an article on migratory birds, it's always a picture of a planetary warbler. And then everyone, sometimes I'll get replies to my tweets about [01:10:00] cupboards, just oh, we should kill them all. Or, these birds are evil or, things like that, birds aren't moral beings.

[01:10:05] But I think calibers are really cool birds. I think that they get a lot of hate that they don't deserve just because that's the reproductive strategy. I don't see people getting mad at, Raptors for eating my warblers. Don't get mad at the cameras for doing what they do.

[01:10:20] So I don't know that I can pick a favorite because I love them both for different.

[01:10:26] Grant Williams: I just hope that nobody who says bad things about Cabot has got a cat. That would just be my thought. It's a bit of a. Ethical gymnastics to to hold that view it anyway cat lovers of the world will hate me.

[01:10:41] I'm not saying bad things about cats, but yeah. But that's right, but predators are predators. It's in the, it's in the night shift. So you can't hate the bird for their nature. You can wish the or the [01:11:00] Robin, or I don't know the Cardinals or debunking. Buntings in this group as well.

[01:11:06] I don't know, but. You can wish them well, but you don't have to hate the height, the cabin, especially then. Nice. Then I

[01:11:15] Hannah Scharf: they're there. They're one of the nice bird parasites, and I've seen some, I've seen some warblers take down some huge dragon flies and just beat them to death on a branch and rip them apart, like piece by piece.

[01:11:28] They can be vicious in their own, right?

[01:11:31] Grant Williams: Yeah, absolutely. To true up Hannah, just to follow on from that question. What's the best book.

[01:11:42] Hannah Scharf: Oh, yeah, the best bird I have birds that I really like, but I don't know if I have a best bird, like for example I love always, I always love seeing woodpeckers.

[01:11:52] I never get tired of seeing woodpeckers, even like a really common around here is Downy woodpecker. I still get excited every time I see them. Another, we have [01:12:00] hummingbirds here, which I always love seeing hummingbirds in the summer. So I have birds that I really like to see, but I don't know if I have a favorite.

[01:12:08] Grant Williams: Do you put a fader out in your gun?

[01:12:11] Hannah Scharf: I'm in an apartment. So I don't have a yard to put a feeder out in, but definitely if I had a yard, I would for sure put a feeder out because I'd love to see what comes around.

[01:12:23] Grant Williams: And and of course I've asked one question after the last question I have to ask you about apartment leaving when you I committed burden it Do you, have you adopted a local park or something like that to go and get your bird fix?

[01:12:38] Or is the field work enough?

[01:12:41] Hannah Scharf: The field work definitely is really nice because I get to see the birds so close. And so hands-on, but the neighborhood that I'm in has a lot of like really old, tall trees. And there's a lot of not the very manicured grass lawns. There's a lot of different sort of plant life around.

[01:12:59] [01:13:00] So actually the birds around there are still pretty nice to see. And I have burns all around my apartments though.

[01:13:07] Grant Williams: Fantastic. All right, Hannah, I think we've I think we've done cowbirds to death. Something we would say here when we've come to the end fifth year PhD student Hannah shaft from the cowbird lab at the university of Illinois, Hannah.

[01:13:26] I won't ask you to spell out the cowbird lab webpage but I will also make sure that it is. Linked on the bird, so people can check out your work. It's been great to me. I'm so glad that I saw your stuff on on bird Twitter and around the same time as world Margaret tree, bird day, and that we could jam it in with the conversation that I had with [01:14:00] your neighbor.

[01:14:01] I would imagine how far is your place from Springfield where Jared Hitchings hangs out?

[01:14:09] Hannah Scharf: It's not super close. So we're not, we're definitely not living in the same town or anything, but the same sort of general area where we're seeing the same types of birds and everything.

[01:14:20] Grant Williams: And we did, of course talk a lot about Prothonotary warbler nesting and whatnot.

[01:14:25] Jared sent me a pile of pictures of the nest boxes that he and his family and friends make and put up and all the different sightings and whatnot. So the bird, P R O w is where you can check out all of those visuals. And I'm pretty sure Hannah's going to give me some more so that the bird will be full of a whole lot of stuff that you can.

[01:14:59] [01:15:00] Use, when you follow along with this discussion on the website or in your headphones, in the podcast feed anywhere else you would like people to check out Hannah before we sign off?

[01:15:11] Hannah Scharf: No. If you look at my Twitter and follow my Twitter, I have also like I'll share with you.

[01:15:16] I have hundreds of photos. I also share a lot of this photo photos and some videos along with kind of information about what's going on my Twitter. So if you just go through my media on my Twitter, I've got loads of cool photos.

[01:15:28] Grant Williams: That's great. I'll all I'll beg, borrow and steal as much as I can use and we'll we'll turn the bird into a place of cupboard love, not cabin height.

[01:15:43] That's great to hear. You can catch up with everything. Bird Please subscribe to YouTube, the bird YouTube. Because when I get some more [01:16:00] subscribers, I get to do a few more groovy things on YouTube. And it's all about spreading the word and sharing the love of our birdie friends.

[01:16:10] But in a trivia as well, that is back photography. Friday is on its way back and tool. God Thursday is on its way back because Hannah we've survived elect election season in Australia. And I was putting so much energy into getting some real change for conservation climate change and biodiversity and it's happened.

[01:16:33] So now the focus can go back onto birds. Thanks so much for joining me, Hannah, it's been a delight. I've really enjoyed meeting you. Thanks everyone for being with us on grant Williams. I'm a bird note. That's been Hannah scarf. I knew I was getting to that Hannah shop. Ah, it's terrible. Does that happen all the time?

[01:16:56] Hannah Scharf: Yeah, it happens a lot, actually.

[01:16:58] Grant Williams: I'm real. I'm really sorry [01:17:00] because I've written it out clearly here. I've tried so hard, but I think when you re when you're trying not to say something, it's the first thing you say. Yeah.

[01:17:10] Hannah Scharf: You got it right out. So that's better.

[01:17:12] Grant Williams: At least I recognize I got it.

[01:17:14] Wrong. Final question, Hannah. I should have asked it earlier on. When will you be completing your PhD? When will we be calling you Dr. Hannah?

[01:17:24] Hannah Scharf: Probably definitely within the next two years, probably next year. In the summer.

[01:17:31] Grant Williams: Fabulous. Completing your PhD fieldwork in the time of a pandemic, I take my hat off to you.

[01:17:38] Lots of perseverance, terrific stuff on grant when the, this is a bit emergency. Thanks so much for joining. Bye-bye.



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