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Ecology: Bird Behavior and Ethogram Studies
Page Index:


Background Information and Resources
Locating Books | Selected Book Titles
Finding Articles | Special Bird Databases
Internet Resources
Societies and Organizations
Library Research
Evaluating | Citing Sources

Animal behavior is the scientific study of everything animals do... It involves investigating the relationship [between] animals [and] their physical environment as well as to other organisms; and includes such topics as how animals find and defend resources, avoid predators, choose mates and reproduce, and care for their young.

People who study animal behavior are concerned with understanding the causes, functions, development, and evolution of behavior. The causes of behavior include both the external stimuli that affect behavior, and the internal hormonal and neural mechanisms that control behavior. The functions of behavior include its immediate effects on animals and its adaptive value in helping animals survive or reproduce successfully in a particular environment...

From the Animal Behavior Society at Indiana University

What is an ethogram?
"An ethogram is a catalog of an animal’s behavioral repertoire, detailing the different forms of behavior that are displayed by an animal. In most cases, it is desirable to create an ethogram in which the categories of behavior are objective, discrete, and do not overlap with each other. Definitions should be clear, detailed and distinguishable from each other.

Ethograms can be as specific or general as the study warrants. A research project dealing strictly with aggressive behavior in chimpanzees can be composed simply of the various forms of aggression displayed by that species. Alternatively, some studies seek to describe all facets of a particular animal's behavior, and the appropriate ethogram will comprehensively categorize any and all behaviors that may occur." From the AZAA, Behavioral Advisory Group.

Comparative Animal Behavior Research: The Ethogram

Background Information and Resources


  • The Encyclopedia of birds
    Founders Reference QL673E53 1985
  • Animal behavior desk reference: A dictionary of animal behavior, ecology, and evolution
    Founders Reference QL750.3 .B37 2001
  • Columbiform," Encyclopedia Britannica. From the Encyclopedia Britannica Online
  • The Encyclopedia of animal ecology
    Founders QH541 E46 1987
  • Grzimek's encyclopedia of ecology
    Founders Reference QH541 G79
  • Handbook of ethological methods
    Founders QL751 .L398 1998
  • The Oxford companion to animal behavior
    Founders Reference QL750.3 O94 1987

Locating Books: search Sterling | Off-campus users should log-in first

Tip: When you perform a keyword search and locate a title that is on target, check to see the descriptors, index terms, or subject terms and use them to formulate your future literature research. Listed below are Library of Congress subject headings I found useful in locating books for this project.

Selected Library of Congress Subject headings for Birds:

Birds Behavior

Selected Book Titles

  • Acoustic communication in birds
    Founders QL698.5 A26 1982  
  • Animal behavior: An evolutionary approach
    Founders QL751 .A58 1998  
  • Animal behavior: Psychobiology, ethology, and evolution
    Founders QL751 .M393 1999
  • Bird behavior
    Founders QL698.3 B87 1985  
  • Bird song: Biological themes and variations
    Founders QL698.5 .C38 1995  
  • Birds asleep
    Founders QL698.3 S54 1989  
  • Behavior and evolution: Lovebirds, cockatiels, budgerigars
    Founders QL696 P7 K38 1987
  • Cooperative breeding in birds: Long-term studies of ecology and behavior
    Founders QL698.3 C66 1990  
  • The development of animal behavior
    Founders QL763 .D465 1999
  • Ecological aspects of social evolution: Birds and mammals
    Founders QL739.3 E24 1986 
  • A guide to bird behavior
    Founders QL698.3 S757 1983  
  • Gulls and plovers: The ecology and behavior of mixed species feeding groups
    Founders QL696 C46 B37 1985  
  • Habitat selection in birds
    Founders QL673 H2 1985  
  • Helpers at birds' nests: A worldwide survey of cooperative breeding and related behavior
    Founders QL698.3 S55 1987  
  • Individual behavior and community dynamics
    Founders QL751 .F878 1998  
  • Life histories of North American birds with special references to their breeding habits and eggs
    Founders QL681 B47 1974  
  • The Life of birds
    Founders QL 673 W38 1982
  • Monogamy: Mating strategies and partnerships in birds, humans, and other mammals
    Founders QL761 .M65 2003  
  • Nest building and bird behavior
    FoundersQL675 C65 1984
  • Parental behavior in birds
    Founders QL698.3 P37  
  • Physiology and behavior of the pigeon
    Founders QL696 C63 P5 1983  
  • Play and evolution: Second thoughts on the behavior of animals
    Founders QL763.5 .K66 1998  
  • Territory in bird life
    Founders QL698.3 H6 1978
  • Vision, brain, and behavior in birds
    Founders QL698 .V57 1993  
  • Vocal communication in birds
    Founders QL698.3 C37 1979  
  • Weather and bird behavior
    Founders QL698.3 E43  

Internet Resources


Finding Articles

Databases resource access through Howard University Library Web Site:

Databases R »» Authentication required for off-campus access outside HU-Net

Select Biology from the Disciplines list in the left column.

Selected Article Resources — Databases

These keywords may be useful in searching the databases below:

animal behavior, animal preferences, food choice, food preferences, feeding, feeding behavior, resource selection, animal communication, pheromones, vocalization, signals, alarm communication signal recognition, vocal recognition, individual recognition, mating, mating behavior, mating preferences, mate choice reproduction, reproductive behavior, sexual behavior, social dominance, territoriality, social behavior, grooming, group behavior, fighting, locomotion, migration, animal movement, habitat selection, habitat use. Note: "behavior" may also be spelled "behaviour".

  • Cambridge Scientific Abstracts R Abstracts and indexes to scientific and research literature with valuable summaries of original research material. Content coverage includes the life sciences, environmental sciences, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities
  • EbscoHost R The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier provides full text for nearly 4,000 scholarly publications, including full text for more than 3,100 peer-reviewed journals. Coverage spans virtually every area of academic study and offers information dating as far back as 1975. This database is updated on a daily basis via EBSCO host.
  • FirstGov Science A "gateway to authoritative selected science information provided by U.S. Government agencies, including research and development results."
  • JSTOR R Electronic access to a comprehensive archive of articles from journals in the arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, ecology and botany
  • NBII The National Biological Information Infrastructure
    Search results may include articles, references, species profiles, maps.

Selected Electronic Journals

  • NBII list of Ejournals
  • Sterling (HUL Catalog) The online [public access] catalog of the Howard University Library system. Search Sterling using the “keyword search” for ecology ejournals.
  • SCIENCEDIRECT R Unlimited access to abstracts from the most frequently cited journals in the fields of science, technology and medicine, including browsable tables of contents as well as full text of journals to which the library subscribes.
  • Wiley Interscience R A portal to the full-text content of Wiley's journal database. Covers over 300 journal titles in science, engineering, computer science, business, education, law and psychology.
  • Open Access Journals

Special Bird Databases

  • The SORA ( Searchable Ornithological Research Archive) This archive provides open access to the following titles: The Auk (1884-1999), The Condor (1899-2000), The Journal of Field Ornithology (1930-1999), North American Bird Bander (1976-2000), Pacific Coast Avifauna (1900-1974), Studies in Avian Biology (1978-1999), The Wilson Bulletin (1889-1999), and Ornithological Neotropical (1990-2002).
  • OWL Ornithological Worldwide Literature s a compilation of citations and abstracts from the worldwide scientific literature that pertain to the science of ornithology.

Selected Journals in HUL

  • The auk
  • Avian pathology
  • Acta ethological
  • Animal learning & behavior
  • Behavior
  • Animal behavior
  • Applied animal behavior science
  • Behavioral processes
  • Conservation ecology
  • The Ecologist
  • The journal of applied ecology
  • The journal of animal ecology
  • Ecology
  • Ecological monographs
  • Ecological applications
  • Frontiers in ecology and the environment
  • Southeastern naturalist
  • The Wilson bulletin

Societies and Organizations

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