R.W. Moriarty Science Seminar Presents: “Follow Your Nose: How birds use scent to find mates, assess rivals, and recognize relatives”
Speaker: Danielle Whittaker, Oregon State University.
This event will take place online Monday, February 13 at Noon.
Abstract: Smell has been called the most ancient sense, and songbirds are no exception in their use of it. Behavioral, genomic, and neurobiological work has demonstrated that birds can use smell to navigate, find food, avoid predators, and even communicate with each other. The primary source of odors in most birds is preen oil, secreted by the uropygial gland and used by birds in grooming and maintaining their feathers. The compounds that make up these odors provide important information about a bird’s identity, health, breeding status, aggressiveness, and more. Interestingly, these compounds appear to be produced by symbiotic microbes that inhabit the uropygial gland. In this talk, Dr. Whittaker will share over a decade of her research on dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), a widespread North American sparrow, investigating how these odors are produced, what they communicate, and how they relate to behavior.