ABC Projects

Can you find the owls in the night? Researchers recruiting Hoot Detectives

Nationwide project aims to map Australia’s favourite predator birds

Media contacts: Ben Keirnan, ben@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0408 184 858; or Tanya Ha, tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0404 083 863.

A Barking owl fluffing its feathers, or ‘floofing’. Credit: Dr Nick Hamilton

“I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.” Macbeth, William Shakespeare.

Is that an owl hooting? Or a car?

Researchers are after volunteers to help map five native Australian owl species, by listening to short recordings made in the bush. 

The results will provide important information about the range and numbers of these beloved birds of prey. They will also help researchers develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems to use in a new field of science, known as “eco-acoustics”.

The project is called Hoot Detective, and is produced by ABC Science in collaboration with the Australian Acoustic Observatory (A2O) for National Science Week. It will commence online on Monday 9 August at www.hootdetective.net.au and run until the end of August.

The idea is to hunt for Powerful, Barking, Boobook, Barn, and Masked owls. For more about each species, visit hootdetective.net.au/the-owls.

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National challenge seeks to get inside your head

Researchers set up Australia-wide experiment to explore why and when the pennies drop.

Scientists want to know the things that make you go “aha!”.

Throughout August, researchers from the University of Melbourne are conducting a country-wide citizen science project to better understand how the human brain works.

The focus of the project, dubbed The Aha! Challenge, is to investigate the kind of sudden problem-solving insight that makes you spontaneously exclaim “yes!” or “at last!” or, indeed, “aha!”. It’s the ABC’s community project for National Science Week.

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