The Specimen Collection of Birds: Reveals Bias Towards Males?

What Can Science Tell Us About Humanity?

Samantha Clarke
Dec 1 · 4 min read

Separating Fact From Fiction.

The field of ornithology has long had its fair share of debates regarding ethics of collections — but I will be putting that argument aside for the purpose of this article.

I Know What You Are Thinking: It’s Probably Those Bright Colors, Right?

Male birds often have brightly colored feathers that they use to attract females for mating. It would be logical to think that these birds might be easier to see, or they might be more attractive to the human eye, too. Could this have led to more capture of the males than females? What about the nature of the female bird to hide, to protect offspring?

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

But Wait, There’s More: Bias in Documenting Birdsong.

This is not the only bias that we’ve seen in regards to birds. There is another issue: the focus of birdsong. The documentation of the male’s song surpasses the focus on the female birdsong, although the latest research has revealed a significant importance.

Regardless of Reason, Fair Representation Is Important.

Even when it comes to documenting other species in the sciences, we have to ensure that we are being as fair as possible to eliminate bias. Science tells us about the world around us, but it also reveals important facts about us and our humanity, too. Like birds, we may have biological factors that are at play when it comes to dealing with unequal representation. Sometimes to combat systemic bias, we have to intentionally and collectively partake in bias in the opposite direction to level the playing field. This requires not only willingness — but also knowledge.

Through The Lens.

Authentic, personal stories that inspire. Explore the world through another set of eyes.

Samantha Clarke

Written by

I’m a Human That Writes. | Domestic Violence Survivor & Advocate for Women. | Versed in Psychology & Criminology. | Reporter by Day, Vigilante by Night.

Through The Lens.

Authentic, personal stories that inspire. Explore the world through another set of eyes.

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