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You may participate in the Winter Bird Feeder Survey without doing research. Enter the information about the birds visiting your feeder in the data submission area found in the Creating the Context area.

If, on the other hand, you would like to engage in some guided research, PathFinder Science is interested in the following question;

Different birds eat different types of food. Does the type of food you put in the feeder make a difference in the birds that visit your feeder? Or stated slightly differently,

Is there is a relationship between the type of seed put out in a feeder and the species of birds observed at that feeder.

So how did we come up with this question and why are we interested?

Science depends on several assumptions about our universe; such as the universe has regular patterns that human beings can comprehend. Theories are the tentative explanations of our understanding of these patterns and how phenomena may operate in the universe. The pursuit of understanding requires that the researcher acquire and foster certain attitudes; such as questioning, disciplined curiosity, open-mindedness, with-holding judgment, respect for evidence balanced with skepticism, intellectual honesty, a sense of responsibility, and an understanding of one's competence and limitations.

Before planning an investigation, the researcher first recognizes a question or a problem to be studied. Although questions need not be derived from a theory, theories often guide researchers in predicting events or outcomes of research which ultimately support or deny the explanation. You are investigating the winter birds that occur at feeders in Kansas. You can report the data on the birds that visit your feeder on the data submission form of this area, but in order to move your science beyond observation, you need to state a problem in a more formal manner. Questions about observable events related to the birds present at winter feeding stations are the basis of our work.

Some tentative Research Questions

    Some interesting research areas we have been exploring about birds have included:
    1. What birds typically visit a feeder in the winter?
    2. Have the birds visiting feeders in North America changed over the past 10 years?
    3. Does the land/habitat surrounding your feeder effect the birds that visit?
    4. Does changing land use effect the species of birds that visit your feeder?

After watching birds are your feeders, you may have some interesting questions of your own you would like to ask. Share these ideas and questions in the forms below. You can also take a look at other people's ideas and have the opportunity to comment on them. This sharing of ideas is the beginning of building an interesting research question.

Click on a link to read the information that others have found or type in new information below. Only the most recent posts are listed below, visit the discussion area for more related posts.

Formalizing your Research Question

Your research question should evolve as you go through the research process. It is in the heart of the research process (Doing Research process guide )so that as you take each step of the process, you will revisit your question. This will focus your work, but it will also help you evaluate whether your question goes to the heart of what you want to know. The ideal question is one that will yield the most relevant and reliable information with the least expense and effort. To avoid designing experiments around uncertain or vague research questions, continue to gather as much information as possible, Background Information will get you started on this process, and provide some valuable links to additional information. A great deal of information can be found through library research, consulting the card catalog, and through any available journals or research abstracts about birds. Internet searches are also valuable but as always, evaluate the source of the information. Anyone who does not bother to review previous literature runs the risk of needlessly duplicating effort or mistakes. After you have done your information search you should revisit your research question and determine if changes need to be made.

The Research Question we will pursue for this Creating the Context:

Different birds eat different types of food. Does the type of food put in the feeder make a difference in the species of birds that visit that feeder? Or stated slightly differently, is there is a measurable relationship between the type of seed put out in a feeder and the species of birds observed at the feeder

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