News & Events

Here you can find some recent news and events, as well as a selection of recent papers and any new members that have joined the EGI.

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Bird Ringing Demonstration at Farmoor Res Oxon, 25th February 2012

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» Vocal information about food availability more prevalent in the morningsFebruary 28, 2019

blue tit on feeder_FHillemannWintering songbirds have to find food while avoiding predators. Previous research has demonstrated that birds benefit by forming groups: they use information from others to find food sources while per-capita predation risk decreases through dilution. However, much less is known about in what way birds produce information about food availability, e.g. calls which attract others. Attracting others to food decreases per-capita risk of predation, but increases competition. However, these costs and benefits do not covary linearly with group size, and the effect of recruiting an additional group member is not constant.

Friederike Hillemann, lead author on the paper, said: ‘Using a combined observational and experimental approach, we show that wintering songbirds make economic decisions about when to produce information about food availability: As the day progresses and foraging group sizes increase, the costs of producing calls that attract others outweigh the benefits, causing a decrease in vocal activity into the afternoon.’

Read the paper, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, here: ‘Diurnal variation in the production of vocal information about food supports a model of social adjustment in wild songbirds‘.

Most Recent News Story


Applications are invited for a fixed term Postdoctoral Research Assistant to be held at the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, from 1 December 2019 (or as soon as possible thereafter) for 31 months.  This post is funded as part of a grant from the Natural Environmental Research Council to Prof Ben C Sheldon, Dr Josh Firth and Dr Ella Cole.

The position will use a long-term study population of wild birds (great tits) at Wytham Woods, near Oxford, as a model system to address questions relating to ecology, social behaviour and information transmission in natural populations.

The main duties of the post-holder will be to conduct research by addressing how interplay between ecology, social networks, and behaviour spread in a wild bird population; preparation of the arising papers for submission to peer-reviewed journals and the design and execution of experiments in relation to the project, and collection of data in relation to the long-term study system (Wytham Tits Project:

Successful candidates must have (or be about to obtain) a PhD and research specialisation in the field of animal social behaviour; experience in social network analysis and handling large-scale data sets with demonstrable proficiency in R; experience in running field-based data collection and proven skills in writing and publishing papers in leading journals.

The post is based in a dynamic and expanding research-active institute, of c. 50 people, fully integrated within the Department of Zoology. Further details about the institute available at:

Informal inquiries about the post (but not formal applications) should be addressed to Professor Ben Sheldon  (

The post is initially at Grade 7.1 (£32,236 per annum)

The closing date for applications is noon on 27 September 2019.  Further information on how to apply, including a full job description, can be found here.