Backyard Psychology Observations with the Birds

Published March 21, 2008 by Psych n Stats Tutor

I love observing the birds in my back yard (a gr8 site to visit to learn more of birding is at Bird Table News with Birdy Trisha). Early hour observations and valuations this early autumn brings sun birds, Torres Strait pigeons, pee-wees, turtle doves, mynas and butcher birds. Their songs are deep and throaty burbles that let me know it is 6 am, the sun is rising over the nearby ocean and it is time to apply those new knoweldge psychology skills.

 Bird Psychology

Bird Psychology: from

Throughout the day immigrant mynas shall play tag with my two dogs in the back yard; passing the baton to a male butcher bird for the afternoon shift of “drive dogs mental”. The weeping fig out back and sandpaper fig out front attract a myriad of natives and their fledglings (there has been a lot of rain so plenty of food for breeding).

My kitties spend their lazy day mewing with relish at the feathered food teasing them with swoops and chitters. Breakfast has finished so I expect soon to see “Shirly” the pee-wee stride through my home (past the cat!) to peck at toast crumbs to feed her kids in the poinsettia trees out front. Maybe later the tiny sunbird couple will hover through on the swallow-tails of butterflies and gem coloured bugs, as they evaluate my window mobiles to spin a hammock for their home.

At least two of the species visiting my yard are considered pests by many- the metallic starling and the myna bird (also a starling tho from India). Sometimes I imagine the world without birds – have you ever been to Guam? (no morning birdsongs L).  In India the mynas are kept as house pets and taught to speak. Here they make lots of noise, nest in guttering (we have heavy rains so this is a pain) or air-conditioners (the tropics! again a pain).

Unfortunately also for the myna, they intentionally nest atop native nests, kill their chicks or eat their eggs and are competition for scarce resources. They tend to pick up a lot of litter tho, to make their nests J Our native starlings are just considered noisy- they nest in huge colonies, can be bloody noisy, but are awesome to watch in their aero-acrobatic flight of perfect precision.

Birding offers much insight to the psychology student. There are relationships within a species in the backyard to note, as well as how different species interact-it is very funny watching birds tease dogs and cats! It is also insightful to reflect on how environmental and social issues involving birds come to be (e.g., pests, over breeding, property damage, endangering native birdlife/wildlife), and how such issues can be resolved humanly and economically (e.g., reproduction viruses to curb growth rates, relocation, enhancing habitats and resource opportunities for native birds/wildlife).

I am creating a spreadsheet in Excel to record the type and frequency of birdlife to my yard. I will also note visiting times and interactions with other animals. Methinks this will help me to apply basic stats knowledge and will enhance my observational and critical analysis skills.

If I manage to record some screen captures with Camtasia I will post examples of my research on my blog. If I manage to work my mobile phone to download photos/video to the PC I will again post the information to my blogs.

How fun…!

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3 comments on “Backyard Psychology Observations with the Birds

  • I grew up in the south of New Zealand, sharing a property with sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes and starlings. The starlings were amazing mimics, copying the ducks and telephones. Came across mynahs in Wellington. But it wasn’t until moving to Australia that I realised why mynahs are known as gregarious. They get around like a group of gossips, attacking anyone or anything that looks interesting or different. We could always tell where the cat was by the noise created by the mynahs.

  • the mynas in India appear to lead a very happy and integrated life as compared to our mobs! i am setting up my web cam (hopefully soon) to video bird and bird-cat-dog intereactions to use as data for the students to use, such as with social psychology or group interactions etc.

    i want to be a starling because they fly like luke skywalker! and it always takes my breath away :-)

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