“I’m Squawkin’ Here!”: The New York Accent of the Bird World

Dr. Stephen Nowicki lied to us. While I’m not a fan of lying, this lie was ~for science~, which made it acceptable. This lie, while small in size, made a big difference. The difference was between “pa” and “da” – a miniscule change of breath. This difference, clear to us, shows our categorical thinking: something is “pa” because its not “da”. Birds also, amazingly, display categorical thinking in their song. If it is not the correct song, the song has no meaning, just like how saying “dause” means nothing to humans (while the word “pause” makes sense). Birds from Pennsylvania do not understand the songs of birds from New York because of these slight changes (who knew birds had accents?). Throughout the faculty seminars this summer, I have noticed a trend: discovering connections in the world. I thought Dr. Nowicki’s research was incredibly cool because it uncovered more interconnectedness in the natural world. Additionally, I have been working in an animal behavior lab and Dr. Nowicki’s research sparked my interest into another side of animal behavior research I had never seen before!

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