Traveled to the University of Montana for my annual work with Bret Tobalske. This had an added bonus in that Bret took on Rosalee Elting, one of my former undergraduate researchers as a Ph.D. student!
Our work this year would be several experiments associated with Rosalee’s Ph.D. work including some novel competition studies of male calliope hummingbirds in a flight arena. To be honest I thought it would be a challenge to get these competition trials to work, but in the end the success of this study was the highlight of my trip.
My concern for the competition experiment resulted from work I did for my Ph.D. where I tried to conduct competiton trials in an outdoors tent in the Chiricahua Mts. Those experiments were not horribly successful and I was never able to get them published (tried hard). Even so, The experiments in Montana were a huge success with calliope males battling each other to various degrees in all the trials. Was really fun to watch and look forward to Rosalee’s analysis of the data!
This was a very productive trip. Not only did we get some great competition videos, but also got flight and load-lifting energetics data for all the birds in the study. We also set in motion experiments to get supportive data on free-living calliopes. Can’t wait to see what we learn from all these experiments.