Our new paper in PLoS One with Adam Lendvai is online here. In it, we ask what the optimal sampling duration is during behavioral observations (e.g. when researchers observe parental feeding rates). Using RFID readers and tags on tree swallows we first validate the feeding rates from the RFID logs and then show that one can calculate an optimal duration for the behavioral sampling that optimizes the trade-off between the variation captured by the behavioral sample (as a total amount of the variation in the behavior if one had sampled it continuously) and the sampling duration. Turns out, 1 hour is the optimal duration for both males and females in this species. This is a good result given that many prior studies on this species (and others) used 1 hour of sampling for estimating parental feeding rates. The paper also illustrates the principle of how one can optimize the sampling duration and as noted above, validates the use of RFID readers as a replacement or augmentation for human observation.