Ornithologists often study breeding birds, and as a result, the winter ecology and behavior of migratory birds is relatively understudied. For the past 17 years, Dr. Bruce Lyon and his students have been studying a population of Golden-crowned Sparrows that winter in the University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum. Individual sparrows return winter after winter to the arboretum and flock together with the same individuals as in previous years. Bruce's research has revealed remarkable social complexity in these birds that is similar in some ways to the societies of mammals, including primates. Learn about how the winter lives of these modest little brown birds - from the use of their black and gold crown patches as signals, to the winter songs of males and females - are surprisingly more complex than previously thought.
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