Chicago Wildlife Watch Talk

Confusion over head position

  • blackmons by blackmons

    Can someone please explain to me what is meant by the head position? Would "head down" be, for example, if the head is lowered to eat something? Does the head need to actually be touching the ground, or just looking downward?


  • buffalogroveP by buffalogroveP

    If you look in the discussion : Objects science -- there is info about the head up / down / neither....


  • ForestPreserve by ForestPreserve moderator

    The head position really bugged me too.

    Here's the link to the discussion:

    And here's the blog post it references:

    The blog post has an example of a coyote lying down, which should be classified as "neither" in terms of head positiion. I'd missed that, and there are a fair number of shots of coyotes relaxing, for example ACH0001emi

    I finally figured out that a lot of my problem was opossums: even when they are "head up", their snout is about 45 degrees to the ground. It seems like they are only "head down" with the snout about 90 degrees to the ground.

    I'm now marking most animals which seem to be just moving along as "head up", and not using "neither" as much as before. I still think "head down" is the easiest option, and gets easier as you classify more animals.


  • by scientist

    Thanks for posting these @ForestPreserve and Opossums are probably the toughest animals to categorize because they don't seem to move their heads up and down significantly. We do our best to categorize their behavior with our ethogram and look for very clear examples of the "head up" or "head down" behavior. When in doubt, put "neither"!