A new project is being launched to help us understand which birds are most commonly seen at the zoo.
The project, titled ‘Humpback’ and developed by the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, aims to shed light on the diversity of the birds, and help conservationists understand the reasons behind the different colour schemes.
“The majority of hummingbirds are black and white.
But there are also some browns, greys, and greens,” said Nisha Ramaswamy, a biologist and professor at the Smithsonian Institution.”
So the colour of the bird may be a function of the habitat in which it’s found, its age and habitat.
That’s what’s being studied here, as well as whether the birds are able to see light or darkness.”
The idea behind the project is to use colour-sensitive cameras to capture the colour patterns of the hummingbirds and their surroundings.
“What we’re trying to do is look at how different species of hummingbird respond to light,” said Ramaszamy.
“To see how they respond to the different wavelengths, we need to be able to monitor them.”
To find out which species of birds are more commonly seen in which habitat, the team has developed colour-detecting cameras.
The team is also studying how different hummingbirds’ eyes are able do this.
“We’ve been using colour cameras for a long time, but this is the first time that we’ve actually been able to capture images of individual cells in cells that are not directly connected,” Ramasamy said.
“Our next step is to look at the function of each cell and see what’s happening in each cell.”
The team hopes that this project will help conservation biologists understand why certain birds are found at certain habitats, while others are found more often in different habitats.
“There are a lot of species that are found in different places, and there’s a lot that is found at one site,” said Sam Zell, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the university.
“But we don’t know why they are in one place, we don.
So the idea is to find out why they’re in one habitat, and what that means for other species.”
The project will take up to two years to complete.