American Robin American Robin
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Note: These Challenge Questions coincide with the Spring 2001 Reports

From: Sue-Anne Solem (
Date: Wed Apr 18 2001 - 12:53:05 EDT

  • Next message: Sue-Anne Solem: "Challenge Question #19"

    Several students from Ms. Sheer's fourth grade class at Glenwood School,
    Chapel Hill, North Carolina, pondered this question long and hard and came
    up with some possibilities:
            The tape recorder can pick up very faint noises so the person starts the
    drill at low speed. The tape recorder catches the noises and puts the
    noise near the robin. It might hear the little noises and go down and
    look at the tape recorder, thinking it is a worm.
            Mercaptoacetic acid smells really really really bad, so so the worms are
    attracted to the smell and robins will smell the scent and go down to
    where he smelled the smell and dig.
            Use dead earthworms and live earthworms to see what robins will go to.
    If they go to the live ones, they are probably using their sense of vision
    because bits of dead earthworms don't look like live ones.
            Maybe worms smell like mercaptoacetic acid, and robins would smell it and
    look for worms there.
            If you put the drill on low speed and record it and play it by the nest,
    robins might think it was an earthworm digging and would fly to the sound.
            The scientist might put a living earthworm close to a robin, and if it
    comes down to get it, you will know that the robin is either using its
    sense of smell or its vision. The scientist might take another earthworm,
    cover it with one of the smelly substances and then put it at the same
    distance from the bird. If it comes down, it was probably using its
    vision. If it doesn't, it was using its sense of smell.


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