ISU Headlines

‘…Fancy Crows Drunk on Sex’ topic of IMNH presentation

Posted November 6, 2007

The Idaho Museum of Natural History invites the public to take a vicarious vacation as they present a free lecture by Chuck Trost, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the biological sciences department at Idaho State University.

The lecture, titled “Birds of Paradise: Fancy Crows Drunk on Sex,” is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. in the IMNH museum classroom and is part of the museum’s Armchair Traveler lecture series.

Trost will give a travelogue-style presentation featuring scenery, people and birds. Following his retirement from a 32-year teaching career at ISU, Trost has traveled around the world to view and learn about birds, their behaviors and their evolution.

As part of the lecture, Trost will recount his life-changing research sabbatical and expedition to Papua New Guinea to study bowerbirds and birds of paradise.

“Science is sometimes difficult to achieve while camping in a remote tropical forest, even for five months,” said Trost. “My stated purpose for the sabbatical leave was to try to understand the evolution of polygyny (a mating practice in which a male has more than one female sexual partner) in birds of paradise by studying the few species that remain monogamous. I was surprised that I survived. I guess the coolest thing for me was to realize that these birds of paradise were indeed just fancy crows drunk on sex.”

As the current secretary of the Idaho Bird Records Committee, which maintains the official Idaho bird list, Trost also is a recognized authority on the black-billed magpie.

For more information about Trost’s visit, contact Kristin Fletcher at the IMNH at (208) 282-2262 or fletkris@isu.edu.