Description of Bird Behavior for Comparative Purposes

  • Edward H. Miller
Part of the Current Ornithology book series (CUOR, volume 5)


Ethology arose as a discipline within zoology, with distinctly different aims and methods from psychology (Tinbergen, 1963). From its inception, ethology embraced phylogenesis, inheritance, “survival value,” and adaptation—research areas that relied on comparative observations and inductive reasoning (Darwin, 1859, 1872). Our understanding of animal behavior has increased through many fine descriptive studies and because ethology has become more rigorous, quantitative, experimental, and interdisciplinary. Ethology needs a richness of research philosophies and approaches because animal behavior, however it is viewed or defined, is complex, dynamic, and influenced by many internal and external factors with enormously diverse time courses. A comprehensive understanding of behavioral attributes of bird feeding, for example, demands knowledge of motor patterns, feeding mechanisms, diet, development, sensory biology, behavioral ecology, food choice, functional morphology, and other subjects. At the other extreme, progress toward understanding broad transspecific behavioral trends, or toward better standardized descriptive methods in ethology, depends on a knowledge of diverse taxa (Schleidt et al., 1984; Leonard and Lukowiak, 1984).


Motor Pattern Behavioral Category Herring Gull Great Egret Eastern Bluebird 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward H. Miller
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Collections ProgramRoyal British Columbia MuseumVictoriaCanada

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