Zebra Finch Begging: Update 1

This week and last were dedicated to setting up the necessary technology for my project and troubleshooting. For my project, I am observing the begging behavior and calling structure of zebra finches when exposed to a mercury or control based sub-lethal treatment. Currently, I have 3 control pairs and 2 mercury treated pairs set up for my project. Pairs consist of a male and female zebra finch and are housed in separate cages with food, water, cuttlebone, nesting material, and grit ad libitum. Each cage has a wooden nest box with a camera affixed to the top so that I can record behavior inside of the nest.


This week, I worked on setting up the cameras and CCTV system. This was surprisingly more complicated than I expected because none of the cables worked properly. After spending hours trying to contact the Lorex support team, they deemed the equipment not compatible (although I know this isn’t true because the compatibility checker on their website said that they were). Anyways, I finally figured out it was a mix between a broken DNC cable and not enough output voltage and tracked down replacement pieces. Now it works and I can watch my birds!


I have also been working on how I will analyze my data. I have now read a lot of literature on all things zebra finch and think I will be using the warbleR package in R to analyze the calling amplitude/frequency differences. This is a challenge because I am not familiar with the software, so I am currently trying to learn the proper commands in order to properly process my data. This data will be from the begging calls of the zebra finch chicks, which I will isolate and record using a lapel microphone.


For the remainder of this week, I will continue learning how to use R. It is pretty complicated, but I have figured out a few things so far and downloaded all of the necessary packages so I am hopeful that it all works out.