Scientists use multiple techniques to track animal behavior observations, including keeping field journals with nature observations. The fall 2006 issue of “Smithsonian in your Classroom” uses Smithsonian science stories for natural journaling with students, including a behavior watch with National Zoo webcams.
It is fun to design your own behavior watch study of a wildlife species that especially interests you! You can watch various behaviors in one species, or observe one type of behavior, such as grooming or feeding, in different species of animals. Any animal can be the subject of a behavior watch, but it is least frustrating to select animals you can easily find and watch. For example, if you are interested in learning about bird behaviors, remember it will be easier to observe large birds like pigeons than small songbirds like wood warblers.
A visit to your local zoo or aquarium is an ideal occasion for conducting a wildlife behavior watch. Go to your zoo’s website before your trip to select which animal you want to study. Then design your research question and checklist around that animal. Use the basic behaviors from the squirrel study for your zoo behavior watch list. Or, create your own list of behaviors specifically related to the species you’ve chosen and the questions you’re asking.
The human species can be as interesting to study as any wildlife species., You can easily design a research question around Homo sapiens behavior! Think of places at school where students gather, such as your school cafeteria or playground. Just be sure not to intrude or offend your classmates.