Animal Behavior Society, Day 2

We slept in a bit, which meant we missed the keynote talk early in the morning. When we did arrive on site, I certainly did feel some dizziness and breathlessnes. But one I had a seat inside I started to feel better. So I think my stronger reaction to altitude the first day probably had a lot to do with my fatigue from the driving.

In any case, we sat in on the “Cognition” session. The stunning presentation there was by Michael Noonan, who told the audience about killer whales “baiting” gulls. He had photographs and video sequences of killer whales at a facility catching gulls. A four-year-old male calf began spitting out fish at the surface, then watching from below the surface. If a gull attempted to snatch the snack, the calf would try to lunge and grab the bird.

Then his three-year-old half brother picked up the behavior. And then his half-brother’s mother started “birding”. From there, it was picked up by the mother of the four-year-old. A female calf got part of the behavior, spending a chunk of time at the surface spitting water. Finally, an adult male has partially taken up the behavior, but so far the adult male has never been observed to actually make a catch in this fashion.

In the evening, there was part one of a two part workshop on sexual selection. I snagged a handout. I’ll try to describe more later, but right now I need to get some sleep.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.