Vol 9, Issue 1, February 2022

ManyBirds: A Multi-Site Collaborative Open Science Approach to Avian Cognition and Behavior Research


Lambert, M. L., Farrar, B. G., Garcia-Pelegrin, E., Reber, S., & Miller, R. (2022). ManyBirds: A multi-site collaborative Open Science approach to avian cognition and behavior research. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 9(1), 133-152. https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


Comparative cognitive and behavior research aims to investigate cognitive evolution by comparing performance in different species to understand how these abilities have evolved. Ideally, this requires large and diverse samples; however, these can be difficult to obtain by single labs or institutions, leading to potential reproducibility and generalization issues with small, less representative samples. To help mitigate these issues, we are establishing a multi-site collaborative Open Science approach called ManyBirds, with the aim of providing new insight into the evolution of avian cognition and behavior through large-scale comparative studies, following the lead of exemplary ManyPrimates, ManyBabies and ManyDogs projects. Here, we outline a) the replicability crisis and why we should study birds, including the origin of modern birds, avian brains and convergent evolution of cognition; b) the current state of the avian cognition field, including a ‘snapshot’ review; c) the ManyBirds project, with plans, infrastructure, limitations, implications and future directions. In sharing this process, we hope that this may be useful for other researchers in devising similar projects in other taxa, like non-avian reptiles or mammals, and to encourage further collaborations with ManyBirds and related ManyX projects. Ultimately, we hope to promote collaboration between ManyX projects to allow for wider investigation of the evolution of cognition across all animals, including potentially humans.


Animal cognition, Birds, Comparative psychology, Replication, Metascience, Open science