Lab Packet: How swans react to human behavior and other extraneous elements.

This topic submitted by Matt Kelly, Brad Hamilton, Greg Dutton, and Brian Foster ( at 10:15 pm on 10/22/99. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Cummins

Lab Teaching Packet

I. Abstract:
Our group is studying the reactions of swans when approached by humans and how they react to different sounds. We have included charts of how the swans reacted to different situations and how the weather was when we studied them. We plan on seeing if the weather has any influence on the attitudes of the swans. In studying the swans we hope to find out if there is any different way to build artificial habitats for swans that are better suited to their needs.
Hopefully, at the end of our study we hope to be able to tell if the weather has any effect on the swans and if different swans react differently than others. We regret that we don't have more time to study the swans because we feel that it would be very informative to see if the swans' behavior changed throughout the seasons; or if they acted differently during their mating season.

II. Introduction:
Our group is studying the reactions of the Western swans when extraneous objects are introduced to their environment. We plan on studying different aspects of the swans' daily lives to see if there are any changes in the swans' behavior according to the weather. In order to do this we must study different aspects of the weather, like temperature, the type of weather, including if it's sunny, cloudy, raining, humid, and so on.
After reading other articles and books we hypothesize that the swans will act differently according to the weather and time of day. We feel that the sounds and people around the pond will generally repel the swans. During a hot day we feel that the swans will stay in the shade during a hot day so as not to get overheated. According to the temperature of the pond and air we think the swans will act differently. If the temperature of both are cold we think the swans will be more active because they will have to keep up their body temperature, if the temperature of both are hot the swans will be more relaxed because they would not want to overheat. We also think that the swans will generally remain in the pond from late morning until mid to late afternoon. This could also change based on the times that the swans would be fed.
We feel this research topic is interesting because of the strange behavior of the Western swans. We would like to figure out why the Western swans have such volatile attitudes and why they act so mean to humans. We predict that the swans will stay here all year round because their wings are clipped. If we can we would also like to study swans that are able to migrate and live in their own natural environment. We may do this by traveling up to Hueston Woods and studying the swans in the lake. But, those swans might have flown south by the time we are able to set up our experiments and travel out there to study them.
We plan on learning how the swans react to human behavior and extraneous sounds and objects introduced to their environment. We also hope to learn how to build an environment better suited to meet the swans' needs.

III. Relevance
The group from last year studied the effects that colors had on the swans, and how they acted before and after they were fed. They floated balls of certain colors in the pond and watched the swans to see how they reacted; whether they swan up to them, attacked them, or swam away. They also studied the swans fifteen minutes before and after they were fed in order to see if there was any change in their behavior. One of the students' problems was that one of the swans is blind and didn't react to any of the colors. This threw off their results and added an extra variable.
Our research relates to the real world by how the swans react to humans in a natural environment. Also how any sounds will effect animals. Other studies like this will aid us in determining whether or not humans have effected animals in their environment. Also having the result of this study may help us structure a better environment for the swans or other animals in general.

IV. Materials and Methods
We plan on studying the swans throughout the day to observe their habit and record their reactions toward sounds and humans. Our ideas are to observe where the swans are during different times of the day. Then comparing where they are to the other swans, time of day, weather, and sun and shade. Then we also plan on introducing different sounds to them and observing their reaction. We are also going to deal with different pitches, volume levels and types of music. We feel that are design is statistically sound because we plan on studying the swans at different times of the day in order to get different results. Also we have included many ideas from other people in our class who have critiqued our proposal on the Internet. We don't think that our results will be biased because each person has to study the swans at different times and will each have a different effect on the swans so we will have different results for each time.
Some materials we plan on using include:
Bells- to test the results of different pitches on the swans.
Whistles- also to test if high pitched sounds have an effect
Our voices- just to see if different voices have different effects
Food- to see if the swans will eat out of our hands after they grow accustomed to our voices and actions
Bottles filled with water- to make certain sounds
Thermometer- to see what temperature it is when we study the swans
We plan on asking the class to add any additional information they might come across. For example, if someone would happen to pass the pond and write down significant information they might have seen, or any information at all. We also will give the class members charts to fill out at different times to add to our information so that we will have more results to study. We hope that the students will be honest while filling out the charts but we really have no influence on their behavior so we will just tell them to be honest in order to help us out.
Times and dates that we plan on studying the swans:
10/4 Start collecting data, such as location of swans, temperature, and weather (sunny, cloudy, etc).
10/6 Collect data. Also see how the swans react to our own actions.
10/8 Collect data.
10/9 See how the swans react to our own actions.
10/11 Collect data.
10/13 Collect data. See how the swans react to our own actions.
10/15 Collect data.
10/16 See how the swans act before and after they are fed.
10/18 Collect data.
10/20 Collect data. See how the swans act before and after they are fed.
10/22 Collect data.
10/23 See how the swans act before and after they are fed.
10/25 Collect data.
10/27 Collect data. Experiment on the swans with different sounds and see how they react.
10/29 Collect data.
10/30 Experiment on the swans with different sounds and see how they react.
11/1 Collect data.
11/3 Collect data. Experiment on the swans with different sounds and see how they react.

V. Results
Some of the results that we have collected so far include how the swans reacted when we walked up to them and what they did once we walked away a distance. So far we have studied the swans about 10 times but I will only say the main points because most of the results have been the same. We studied the swans at 4:23 until 5:00 PM on October 4. When we went to the pond all three swans were on the eastern side of the pond feeding on corn that someone had placed along the wall. We got within five yards when the swans started making noises and began to get agitated. As we got closer to the swans the one without black around the eyes started hissing at us and extended his neck to appear more intimidating. It also made coughing noises and started chasing us around. When we walked away about twenty feet it stopped hissing and started eating again. The two swans black around their eyes did not do very much at all when we approached them and then swam up to us when they were in the pond. They didn't eat out of our hands that day but later on they did try eating out of our hands when we kneeled down along the wall. The swans would swim away once they finished eating and then would not come over. On another day the mean swan was just sitting on the peninsula on the western side of the pond. He made noises when we approached on the other side but stayed there the whole time.
As to the turkey type birds, they seem to be much more relaxed than the swans. We could get to within three feet before they began to walk away and then would just waddle into the pond. They haven't come up to us yet, but also eat the food along the wall when the swans leave to swim around.
Our chart for recording the swans' and turkeys' behavior looks like the following.
Swans Turkeys
Date :
Time :
Temperature :
Weather :
Location :

Actions being
done :

Distance to
first reaction :

Distance to
agitation :

Reaction to
humans and
sounds :

Distance until :
birds stopped
being agitated :

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