2nd Graders Help Cornell Researchers

Last week, I had the pleasure of organizing a citizen science project for my son’s second grade class. The teacher and students were well-prepared by the time I entered the classroom to talk about Cornell’s citizen science project called “Pigeon Watch”. The kids had already viewed the getting started video so they were aware that not all pigeons look alike. They also understood why scientists are turning to kids and adults in an effort to create a much clearer picture of the epidemiology of pigeons. Why are there so many different colors of pigeons in the world? Sure, humans selectively bred them to bear beautiful colors but once they were released back into the wild, scientists predicted they’d revert back to the colors of their wild relatives in the Mediterranean. But they haven’t, even after 400 years. No other feral animal has kept so many domestic colors for more than a few generations.

By recording observations about urban pigeons, citizen scientists, like these 2nd graders, are helping scientists understand:

* why pigeons continue to exist in so many colors
* which color morphs pigeons prefer for mates

Thanks, kids, you are terrific scientists! GOOOOOO Science!