Hello from the Albertan Rockies, where Sue, Georgina and I are here for the hummingbird fieldwork season. Whilst the team get the birds sorted out and trained up, Sue and her long-time collaborator Andy Hurly from the University of Lethbridge have been hosting a wildlife film crew, filming a documentary about animal cognition in the wild for the prestigious The Nature of Things wildlife series. Sue and Andy have been interviewed about their research, and the film-makers filmed one of the male rufous hummingbirds doing a “timing” experiment, where they learn the re-fill rates of artificial flowers and time their visits accordingly (it’s pretty cool – see Henderson et al 2006, Current Biology). Most excitingly of all, the film crew brought a camera that can film at 1500 frames per second, generating some amazing slow motion footage of the hummingbirds feeding. The show should air late autumn in Canada, and we will keep our eyes peeled for it making UK screens sometime after that. Until then, here are some pictures of their visit.
Here Sue and Andy prepare for their on-screen interview.
Sue explaining the ins and outs of hummingbird cognition to camera.
Meanwhile, a ground squirrel wonders what all the fuss is about.
Sue and Andy are filmed setting up the experiment.
It takes quite a team to get that winning shot, while Maria and Freya help the slow-mo team.
The team check out the footage, although the red-winged blackbirds are less impressed…