|Dark-eyed "Slate-colored" Junco |
by Dick Daniels
At this time of year, different forms of Dark-eyed Juncos return to the eastern United States and to lower elevations out west for the winter. This is just the time for folks to appreciate a video that has been released on the junco, time to take a moment to pause and appreciate this relatively common bird more closely.
The video is from a team of biologists at Indiana University led by Drs. Ellen Ketterson and Jonathan Atwell and film student Steve Burns. The video, Ordinary Extraordinary Junco is available for free viewing on the Junco Project website.
While it was created with high-school and college science standards in mind, it was also produced in hopes that it might educate and inspire citizens and students of all ages and backgrounds to appreciate science, field research, birds, and natural resources. It is 88 minutes long in eight parts (from 3 to 20 minutes long each).
The video highlights how biologists study birds in the wild and in controlled environments. The fact that it uses a highly variable bird that even the most casual backyard bird watcher and feeder-watcher can identify makes it especially relevant.
The video was funded by the National Science Foundation and Indiana University, and it is entirely not for profit.
Each of the eight sections can be enjoyed independently or used as individual teaching modules, but they also flow together as a single feature-length piece, whether one wishes to study diversification, natural selection, breeding biology, or much more.
Fortunately, related educational materials are accessible on the Junco Project website for teachers. It is worth watching and worth adapting as a teaching tool.