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Faculty Mentor

Chad Tillberg

Abstract

As traditional agricultural practices change, the scarecrow has also been renovated and modernized to include mock natural predators, such as owls, hawks, and falcons instead of comical human representations. These facsimiles represent an excellent opportunity to examine anti-predatory tactics and vigilance behavior in birds as a response to perceived threats. In this study, we tested songbird reaction to an owl decoy that mimicked the presence of a predator and to a non-threatening object placed in an oak woodland within Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Frequency of bird visitations to bird feeders when either a plastic owl or a cardboard box of similar size was used to examine the effect of the presence of a predator on bird feeding behavior. We hypothesized that introduction of a model owl would reduce the number of birds observed at a nearby feeder, but a cardboard box would not have a significant effect on bird presence. Using paired t-tests, we determined that a false predator was effective in deterring bird species from feeding, while a box was not.

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