Beyond observing our zoo animals, visitors to Schönbrunn Zoo will also be surprised to see the many wild crows. A citizen science project of the University of Vienna in cooperation with the Konrad Lorenz Research Center and Schönbrunn Zoo was devoted to studying the behavior of these black-plumed zoo guests. The special feature: all zoo visitors are warmly welcome to collect their own research data at the zoo.
This project is designed to document the species and subspecies of crows present at Schönbrunn Zoo and their behaviors. This approach enables studying their group dynamics and the influence of ecological factors (for example food availability or the presence of zoo animals).
Ravens and their relatives (corvids) are typical so-called anthropophilous species, i.e. they regularly frequent human settlements and use them as food sources. They can often be encountered in various group sizes. Recent research results indicate that these groups do not represent entirely anonymous aggregations: some of the birds can be repeatedly found together. In the present study, the participants are called upon to determine which crow species are present at Schönbrunn Zoo, where they preferentially congregate and what they do at the different sites. The project is a major contribution to research on the behavior of crows in human surroundings.
KraMobil (Crows at the Zoo) is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). It is a citizen science project of the University of Vienna (Department of Behavioral and Cognitive Biology) in cooperation with the Konrad Lorenz Research Center and Schönbrunn Zoo. The aim is to actively engage zoo visitors in research activities. Everyone is free to participate and provide valuable information on the behavior of the crows via the specially developed app. The input of the citizen scientists is checked for correctness and evaluated in the framework of a scientific publication.
Zoo visitors use the free app “KraMobil” for smartphones to report sightings of free-living crows at the zoo. Beyond information on the species, group size and location, they can enter data on behaviors such as feeding, plumage care, aggression or interactions with zoo animals. The app also provides help in species determinations, the interpretation of behavior patterns and general instructions for use.
Simply download the free app "KraMobil" via Google Play Store or the App Store and then observe and photograph crows at Schönbrunn Zoo. Observations can also be entered by computer or laptop. Click here for the web app!
This and other exciting citizen science projects are listed on the platform “Österreich forscht” (“Research projects in Austria”).