Where were the juncos?

The total junco count for my field site scouting last week was… one. Where were the juncos?

I suspect that they weren’t yet there. Juncos seem to winter at low elevations, then migrate to higher elevations as the weather improves enough to permit breeding. I wasn’t sure exactly when this would happen—that’s why I was scouting. Given that there was frost on the ground, leaves were just emerging from buds, and the bluebirds were collecting nesting material, it doesn’t surprise me that the junco breeding season was not yet in full swing.

This is actually great for me. My field assistants are undergraduates and don’t get out of school for another few weeks. If the juncos haven’t yet arrived, then it looks like by the time they start defending territories, attracting mates, and generally doing interesting things, my field assistants will be free and I’ll be at full researchy strength.

I’m here now and I have awesome spotted legs and sticky toes, research me!

The SciFund Challenge begins!

Round Two of the SciFund Challenge, an experiment in crowdfunding science, is up and running at RocketHub. The SciFund Challenge is a neat idea because it isn’t just asking for money (which we do all the time, although we call it “grant writing” to make ourselves feel better)—it’s about reaching out to the public and talking about our research to non-scientists. Too, it gives everyone a little bit of say in what they think is interesting, worthy research. The vast majority of research is funded by committees made up of veterans in that particular field, and there is a lot that is great about that; but it can make fields rather insular, and promote grant writing skills over outreach skills. Adding crowdfunding into the mix changes that.

So check out my project, if only to see all the footage of juncos, including chicks and a fledgling! And take a look at some of the others; there are a huge variety of projects up, on everything from crabs to parasites to saving the world, and some of them are really cool.

And thanks to Dr24hours for being my first funder!