Bronx Zoo Trip with Animal Behavior 716

A pair of White-Throated Bee-Eaters (  Merops albicollis ).

A pair of White-Throated Bee-Eaters (Merops albicollis).

On a rainy Thursday morning my animal behavior class took a trip to the Bronx Zoo.  Our objective was to go from exhibit to exhibit and begin to learn techniques for making behavioral observations.  It was interesting to see the wide variety of methods that can be implemented at the zoo.  We took photos of the arrangement of bison in their exhibit over two hours that will be compiled into a time lapse video showing movement patterns.

In the World of Birds exhibit we focused on a seemingly inseparable pair of White-Throated Bee-Eaters.  Over the course of our visit they rarely moved from each other's side, and it appeared as if even their breathing rhythms were synchronized.  On this rainy day, both the World of Birds and Bison exhibits provided relatively pastoral scenes where behaviors could be tracked over the course of a day, and eventually certain stereotypic behavioral pattens would emerge.

We eventually visited the Madagascar exhibit where the lemur display provided a very different atmosphere.  Bursts of aggressive interactions and displays of high tension were prevalent.  Even though their exhibit is quite large, the lemurs utilized the entire area to make sure they had as much distance as possible between each other.  When one lemur encroach on a neighbor's territory, a conflict ensued with shrill calls and rapid jumps to create more space between rivals.

The African Weaver Bird exhibit at the Bronx Zoo.  Several hanging nests can be seen in the background.

The African Weaver Bird exhibit at the Bronx Zoo.  Several hanging nests can be seen in the background.

After our first round of observations, I'm leaning toward making behavioral observations of tinamou group movements, or weaverbird nest building.  Although the weaverbird exhibit was much quieter than when we made our first trip to the zoo in October, two birds were still working on new nests.  Also, I noticed that a pair of Cut-throat Finches who share the exhibit space with the weavers were making frequent visits to an old weaver nest.