Kaeli Swift holding a Canada Jay.
Kaeli Swift holding a Canada Jay. Photo provided by Kaeli Swift

Kaeli Swift (@CorvidResearch) is an avian ecologist, specializing in corvids, and an avid science communicator. For more about her, her work, or the awesomeness of corvids check out Kaeli’s website https://corvidresearch.blog/

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Yes! a dog, a cat, and three snakes!

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

My house is basically made of wildlife art. Mostly crows, lol.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Kinda of? I could get by in a Spanish speaking country but only by the skin of my teeth.

8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?


9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?

Marine biology specifically cephalopods. That’s what I originally wanted to do as an undergrad!

10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?


11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?

Manipulating metal like Magneto.

12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

Mind of the raven is what first sent my down the career path I am on now, and anything crow related by John Marzluff is a must read. But this is a really tough question because there are so many possibilities. Ijeoma Oulu’s writing has really shaped my understanding of race and racism in America. Alice Water’s The Art of Simple food changed my life as far as empowering me to cook anything. Everything Lindy West writes is brilliant and should be read by everyone. Watership Down is maybe my favorite book. No wait, The Poisonwood Bible. You must read that. Kingsolver is such a beautiful writer and this book will make you deeply appreciate how much damage colonialism did to the Congo. This question never ends. And what to watch? Honestly I love TV. I think The Good Place is one of the smartest shows on right now.

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

Here’s my perfect day. Wake up early (ok like 7) go on a hike with my spouse and dog. Bonus points for scoring some awesome corvid photos. Be back home by 4, just in time to take a 30min nap. Wake up read a book for about an hour. Make an awesome dinner with my husband and then settle down on the couch for TV time until bed.

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

My family*, naps, birds.
*Family is defined as friends, spouse, blood relations, and pet because I’m cheating. Also, can I add sugar?

15 What beverage gives you life?

My husband bought me a soda stream for Christmas because he was ashamed of how many cans of La Croix I was producing on a daily basis.

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

I carry a lot of shame about this but I barely remember any of the books I read in school.

17 What did you want to be be when you grew up?

An entomologist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

I love birds. And I love making other people appreciate birds and other wildlife.

19 What got you excited in science?

The idea that we could know things about animals.

20 What excites you about science now?

That there is soooo much we don’t know.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

I watch a lot of TV.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Needle felting

23 What is your favorite game?

Durak or cranium

24 What is the last book you read?

I’m reading Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr right now.

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

Permanence is a fallacy.

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?

Sky diving

27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

Don’t change a thing. It all works out.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Dog time

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Broad City

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

Dead animal parts

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

Poisonwood Bible

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Braised oxtail with polenta

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

April 25th

35 What is your favorite plant?


36 What is your favorite science fact?

Kleptoparasitism pressure by ravens may drive wolf pack size.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Orange jasmin

39 What is your favorite sound?

I’m a bird person, please don’t make me pick.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My ability to communicate science. Or my feet.

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?


42 What is your proudest moment?

Getting my PhD.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A big leaf maple so I could be loaded with moss and have lots of critters visit me.

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

We are so close to lots of outdoor areas and wildlife.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

The number of microbes living in/on your body outnumber your human cells by about 10:1.

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?

Sarah McAnulty (@sarahmackattack)