Episode 19: Bluebirders vs House Sparrows with Suzanne Hartley

We got the chance to sit down with Suzanne Hartley, a graduate student at North Carolina State University.  Suzanne researches how to help Bluebirds in their surprisingly violent turf war with House Sparrows, and how we can use this war to learn about environmental toxins like pesticides or other chemicals.  Bluebirds are a beautiful, native species in North America, but they are constantly harassed by House Sparrows, an invasive species from Europe.  So listen in to learn about Bluebird defenders, called Bluebirders, and what they are doing change the balance.  Read below to learn more about the study or even get involved.

About Suzanne

Suzanne is a masters student in Fisheries Wildlife and Conservation Biology at NC State. She currently manages Sparrow Swap, a citizen science project that tests different house sparrow management strategies and investigates the use of house sparrow eggs for mapping environmental contaminants. You can see the project in action behind the glass of the Biodiversity lab at NC Museum of Natural Sciences.

Suzanne’s Research Project Sparrow Swap

Connect with Sparrow Swap on Facebook and Twitter

More information

Learn general bird information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Find even more citizen science projects like Sparrow Swap on SciStarter

NestWatch monitoring program has a database of bluebirds as well as other nesting bird species

Visit Sialis website for another background on bluebirds

This episode was recorded at ComSciCon Triangle, the convention for science communicators in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.  Special thanks to RTI international for hosting us!  Follow ComSciCon on Twitter and check out this recently-published journal article on science communication training penned by two (former and current) committee members.

Also listen to our other interviews from ComSciCon:

Ep. 20: Biomedical Engineering and Science Education with Stephanie Teeter

Ep. 21: Smart Textiles and Flexible Electronics with Ashish Kapoor

Ep. 24: Search and Destroy in HIV Therapy with Aaron Devanathan


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