When most people encounter me in data-collection mode, I’m usually wearing a lot of gear. At any given time, I might be wearing or using binoculars, clipboards, video cameras, or a parabolic microphone. My attention is usually directed at the crows in the area, but most bystanders don’t notice the crows. They notice me, searching the area for who-knows-what.
I’m also usually wearing something to make myself unrecognizable. My study involves measuring how crows react to the various things that I do. However, crows can remember human faces; I don’t want the crows to change their behavior because they recognize me when I revisit the area.
My original intention was to use some latex masks that my lab had created for the facial recognition study. We know that they fool crows. Unfortunately, people find them terrifying.
Since I really don’t want people calling the cops on me (getting arrested will mess up my experiment), I had to think of a more benign way to disguise myself. The solution I settled on was to play dress up.
I’ve come up with a number of disguises. So if you see me in the field, I was probably wearing one of the following:
Starting from the top and moving from left to right, I’m calling these disguises 1) The birder, 2) The sick guy, 3) The jogger, 4) The geezer, 5) The allergic guy, and 6) The worker.
I know most of these look ridiculous, but they still hide my face well enough to stop the crows from remembering me, and they’re a lot less disturbing than those latex masks.