Upcoming Programs

PLEASE NOTE: Upcoming Nuttall monthly meetings will be held virtually until it is safe to meet in person. Details will be provided to members as they become available.

Dan Lewis – Robert Ridgway and the Modern Study of Birds

December 7, 2020

Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science and Technology at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens and Associate Research Professor of History of Claremont Graduate University

Robert Ridgway, the Smithsonian’s first Curator of Birds, was one of the world’s top ornithologists, systematists and bird artists, impactful in a wide variety of ways and disciplines. He remains little-known today, but he played an essential role in the development of the modern study of birds. He also was a direct inspiration to William Brewster, founder of the NOC. Dr. Lewis will discuss the history of Ridgway’s work, what it has meant for the study of birds, and what its implications are for the future of conservation.

A native of Hawai’i, Daniel Lewis is the Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science and Technology at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in Southern California. He is an environmental historian who writes mostly about birds and the history of ornithology. He holds the PhD from the University of California in History, and has a faculty appointment in environmental humanities at Caltech, as well as serving as Associate Research Professor of History of Claremont Graduate University. At Caltech, he teaches the country’s only course on the anthropocentric history of extinction.

Patrick Jodice – Searching Sea and Land for the Little Devil: The Ecology and Conservation of the Black-capped Petrel

January 4, 2021

Leader of the U.S. Geological Survey South Carolina Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit and a Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University

The Black-capped Petrel or Diablotin, Pterodroma hasitata, is an endangered seabird endemic to the western North Atlantic. Once thought extinct it was rediscovered in 1963 when nests were located in the Massif de la Selle of southeastern Haiti. The species has a fragmented and declining population estimated at ca. 1,000 breeding pairs, nesting in underground burrows in steep ravines with dense understory vegetation. The only confirmed breeding sites (~100) are located in the mountain ranges of Hispaniola, where habitat loss and degradation are continuing threats. At sea, most of what is known about the range of the species is based on observations from vessel-based surveys in the Atlantic which primarily places the distribution between ~ 30 - 40 degrees latitude and west of the Gulf stream. Our lab has been conducting research on Black-capped Petrels since 2014 to better understand their ecology and contribute to conservation efforts. This presentation will review recent and ongoing research focused on satellite tracking birds in the Atlantic, improving models of nesting habitat in the Caribbean, and improving our understanding of the distribution of this species in the Gulf of Mexico, an area previously thought to be outside of its marine range.

Dr. Patrick Jodice is the Leader of the U.S. Geological Survey South Carolina Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit and a Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University. He has conducted research on seabirds and coastal birds for 20+ years in the southeastern US, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Northwest, and Gulf of Alaska. His research focuses primarily on reproductive ecology, energetics, and foraging ecology. Current projects include Tracking Atlantic and Caribbean Seabirds (TRACS), investigating the spatial and reproductive ecology of brown pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic, and examining distribution, abundance, and ecological relationships of marine birds in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species. Dr. Jodice is currently Chair of the World Seabird Union and a member of the Steering Committee for the Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network. He has degrees from the University of Maine (BS), University of Florida (MS) and Oregon State University (Ph.D.). His research is available at www.atlanticseabirds.org and https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Patrick_JodiceFebruary

Jennifer Gill - Space, time and bird migration: shifting systems in a changing world

February 1, 2021

Professor of Applied Ecology at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK

Migratory bird populations are undergoing rapid changes at present. Shifts in the timing of migration and breeding, and in range and abundance, are being reported in migratory systems across the globe. However, how and why these changes are happening remains unclear. Since the mid-1990s, we have been colour-ringing and tracking individual Icelandic black-tailed godwits on their migratory journeys across western Europe, with the help of a network of citizen scientists. Icelandic godwits have undergone remarkable increases in population and range size and advances in migratory timings in recent decades, and we have used our lifelong tracking of individuals to explore how and why these changes have occurred. These findings have revealed the role that climate change can play in driving change in migratory systems, and why these effects are often more commonly observed in short-distance than long-distance migrant species.

Dr Jennifer Gill is Professor of Applied Ecology at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, UK. Her research focusses on the ecology and conservation of migratory birds, with a particular focus on (and passion for) shorebirds. She currently serves as Chair of Board of the British Trust for Ornithology and has previously served as President of the British Ornithologists' Union.

Tomas Carlo - Effects of avian frugivory in the structure and resilience of plant communities

March 1, 2021

Associate Professor of Biology & Ecology at Penn State University, and associate researcher in the ecology department at the Museo de Historia Natural of the San Marcos National University in Lima, Peru

Birds are the quintessential frugivores (fruit-eaters) that mutualistically disperse the seeds of a myriad plant species that in turn help nourish them. In so doing, birds directly and indirectly influence important community and ecosystem-level processes with broad implications such as forest regeneration dynamics, carbon dynamics, and the expansion of niches. In this lecture I will discuss the factors influencing fruit choices, and the consequences of such behavioral patterns to tropical plant communities. Specifically, I will examine how morphological, physiological, and behavioral factors shape avian frugivory and seed dispersal on Neotropical landscapes that have been fragmented by deforestation. Our results show that generalist birds usually normally classified as "insectivores" are critical to trigger a speedy forest regeneration and the recovery of plant diversity on tropical landscapes that have been affected by human activities and habitat destruction.

Dr. Tomas Carlo is Associate Professor of Biology & Ecology at Penn State University, and associate researcher in the ecology department at the Museo de Historia Natural of the San Marcos National University in Lima, Peru. He is an evolutionary ecologist studying how processes of avian frugivory and seed dispersal shape communities and their resilience. He is native to Puerto Rico, where he started bird watching and nature photography as a child in the mid 80’s. He has conducted most of his work in Puerto Rico, but recently expanded his work to South America (Peru, Brazil, & Argentina) and the Dominican Republic. His main research encompasses studies of the influence of fruit resources on habitat quality for birds, the relationship between fruit preferences and seed dispersal services of birds, and more recently, on the effects of bird seed dispersal on the assembly of successional forests. He has pioneered the developed of stable-isotope marking for study if seed dispersal at large scales. Carlo has also studied the relationship between bird movements and landscape heterogeneity using models and experiments, and the effects of reductions and losses of seabird colonies to the high-order ecological interactions in the terrestrial ecosystem of Mona island. He serves in the editorial boards of Biotropica and Oecologia as Associate Editor and Handling Editor respectively.

Gabrielle Nevitt - Following the scent of avian olfaction

April 5, 2021

Professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at UC Davis

When John James Audubon proclaimed that birds lacked a sense of smell, the study of avian olfaction was doomed to suffer ridicule by ornithology text books for years to come. In recent years, ornithologists have renewed their interest into the sense of smell in birds leading to a new appreciation of their chemical ecology. The tubenosed seabirds (petrels and albatrosses) of the order Procellariiformes have among the most impressive olfactory abilities of any animal on earth. Species within this order spend most of their lives flying over the world’s oceans, returning to land each year or every other year, to breed and rear a single offspring. They tend to partner for life and show strong nest-site fidelity between breeding seasons. Much of my research career has focused on elucidating how procellariform species use olfaction to perform behaviors ranging from foraging and navigation to mate choice and individual recognition. My presentation will touch on some of our recent findings and hopefully convince you that olfaction is a rich field of study, and that questions related to sensory ecology are both important and applicable to scientific inquiry into the biology and conservation.

Dr. Gabrielle Nevitt is a leader in the field of vertebrate Chemical Ecology and has conducted pioneering research in the sense of smell in birds, focusing on procellariform seabirds. She graduated from Stanford University, received her PhD in Zoology from the University of Washington, and did postdoctoral training in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. She has been a professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior at UC Davis for 24 years. She lives with her family on a rural property with various birds including emus.

Jennie Duberstein - Working across borders to conserve birds and habitats in the southwest US and northwest Mexico

May 3, 2021

Coordinator, Sonoran Joint Venture, USFWS

The southwest United States and northwest Mexico is a region of incredible biological diversity, as well as human diversity. Birds and habitats don't recognize international boundaries, and neither can our efforts to conserve then. Successful conservation requires cross-border collaboration that takes into account not just the biological needs, but also the social needs of the region. The Sonoran Joint Venture is a binational partnership the works to conserve the unique birds and habitats of the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. Join Dr. Jennie Duberstein, Sonoran Joint Venture Coordinator, to learn how the SJV brings together partners from both sides of the border to develop and implement innovative mechanisms to address the biggest conservation priorities of the region and ensure a healthy landscape for birds, other wildlife, and people.

Dr. Jennie Duberstein is a wildlife biologist and conservation social scientist who has spent her professional career working to build partnerships for bird and habitat conservation across the United States and northwest Mexico. She has directed environmental education programs, developed community-based conservation projects in the U.S.-Mexico border region, developed and taught courses and workshops on bird identification, ecotourism, and bird monitoring, and has studied species including Double-crested Cormorant and wading birds in Sonora and Yellow-billed Cuckoos in Arizona. Jennie has also worked with young birders for many years, directing field courses, summer camps, and conferences, and generally helping to connect young people with opportunities and each other. Jennie received her B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Virginia Tech and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment

Gail Patricelli - Robots, Telemetry, & the Sex Lives of Wild Birds Using technology to study & protect an enigmatic bird

June 7, 2021

Professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at the University of California, Davis

The southwest United States and northwest Mexico is a region of incredible biological diversity, as well as human diversity. Birds and habitats don't recognize international boundaries, and neither can our efforts to conserve then. Successful conservation requires cross-border collaboration that takes into account not just the biological needs, but also the social needs of the region. The Sonoran Joint Venture is a binational partnership the works to conserve the unique birds and habitats of the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. Join Dr. Jennie Duberstein, Sonoran Joint Venture Coordinator, to learn how the SJV brings together partners from both sides of the border to develop and implement innovative mechanisms to address the biggest conservation priorities of the region and ensure a healthy landscape for birds, other wildlife, and people.

Gail Patricelli is a professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at the University of California, Davis.  Professor Patricelli and members of her lab study bioacoustics, the evolution of breeding behaviors, and the impacts of noise pollution on birds. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Art from Whitman College and PhD from the University of Maryland, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.

Past Programs

(NOC members, login to view and listen to presentations)

Morgan Tingley – The Journey of Birds Across Space and Time

November 2, 2020

The Carolina Parakeet, the Heath Hen, the Passenger Pigeon—when we contemplate how our country’s bird life has changed, we often focus on the handful of species we have lost entirely. But while we have yet to lose a single bird species to our rapidly changing climate, the birds around us have been adapting and changing…

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Tim Low – Australia’s Birds Have Populated the World

October 5, 2020

America’s warblers, jays and all other songbirds on earth can be traced back to an origin in Australia. Genetic, fossil and anatomical evidence all point to this conclusion, which is now consensus science. As befits their very long residence, songbirds in Australia are exceptionally diverse in behaviours, with bowerbirds collecting plastic, magpies blinding children, choughs…

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Luis M. Chiappe – Birding in the Age of Dinosaurs: Advances in Understanding Early Avian Evolution

March 2, 2020

Senior Vice President, Research & Collections Gretchen Augustyn Director, Dinosaur Institute Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County A tremendous amount of new fossils of early birds from the Age of the Dinosaurs has been unearthed in the last few decades. In his lecture, Dr. Chiappe will review the many new discoveries related to the…

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Sarah Hird – Birds and Bacteria: The Avian Microbiome

February 3, 2020

Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cell Biology University of Connecticut Microorganisms have existed on this planet for billions of years. They have shaped our world in countless important ways. How have microorganisms affected animal evolution? Birds are a globally important clade of animals that are essential components to nearly all terrestrial and many aquatic ecosystems. Their…

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David Lank – Competition, cooperation, and deceit among three male morphs of ruffs and the females that choose to mate with them: is this the most complex avian mating system?

January 6, 2020

University Research Associate Simon Fraser University Ruffs (Philomachus [or Calidris, if you prefer] pugnax) have the most complex mating system of any bird in the world.  Three genetically distinct types of males, with different morphologies and mating strategies, attempt to mate at leks with as many females as possible.  Most highly ornamented males fight, but…

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Dr. Gustavo Bravo – The Natural History and Diversification of Neotropical Suboscine Birds

December 9, 2019

Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University The suboscines passerines represent almost 15% of the world’s avifauna. One in three Neotropical bird species is a suboscine, making this the perfect group to examine the origins of tropical biodiversity. Many species are widely distributed and can occur in various habitats, whereas others are geographically restricted and exhibit…

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Dr. David M. Bird – Can Drones Help Our Bird Populations?

November 4, 2019

Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Biology McGill University Small unmanned vehicle systems (UVS), sometimes referred to as “drones” and formerly exclusive to militaries, are rapidly advancing in sophistication and availability to civilians. Ranging from hand-launched autonomous airplanes to terrestrial robots to underwater machines, they are increasingly being employed in such areas as agriculture, emergency services, meteorology,…

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Craig Benkman – Diversification and speciation in crossbills: the importance of a “charmed life”

October 7, 2019

Professor and Robert B. Berry Distinguished Chair in Ecology University of Wyoming After providing an overview of the patterns and processes driving crossbill diversification, this talk will focus on the premating reproductive isolating barriers contributing to speciation in crossbills. Crossbill are interesting in this regard because many crossbill taxa have diverged recently (<11,000 years ago)…

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Dr. John Marzluff – Gifts of the Crow

June 3, 2019

Crows are mischievous, playful, social, and passionate. They have brains that are huge for their body size and exhibit an avian kind of eloquence. They mate for life and associate with relatives and neighbors for years. And because they often live near people—in our gardens, parks, and cities—they are also keenly aware of our peculiarities, staying away…

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Dr. Pamela Loring – Tracking Offshore Movements of Shorebirds and Seabirds

May 6, 2019

Recent advances in wildlife tracking technologies now make it possible to track movements of small-bodied birds at unprecedented scales. Since 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners have deployed miniaturized transmitters on hundreds of seabirds (Common and Roseate Terns) and shorebirds (Piping Plovers and Red Knots) in the northeastern U.S. and Canada. This…

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Emily DuVal – Dancing Birds, Sexual Selection, and the Evolution of Cooperation in a Tropical Forest

April 1, 2019

Males of many species engage in fierce competition for mates.  That competition can take the form of intense battles with rivals or flashy displays that attract females, but in just a few species, males do something truly unusual:  instead of competing, they cooperate.  Male lance-tailed manakins form long-terms two-male partnerships and display together for females,…

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Richard Prum – Mate Choice, Sexual Conflict, and Sexual Autonomy: Everything you ever wanted to know about duck sex, but were afraid to ask

March 4, 2019

Mate choice is well appreciated mechanism in the evolution of avian ornaments.  However, sexual coercion and sexual violence can also influence avian breeding systems, leading to sexual conflict. This talk will explore sexual conflict in waterfowl, bowerbirds, and lek evolution. The conclusion is that freedom of choice matters to birds. Sexual autonomy actively evolves in…

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Matthew Kamm – Avian Real Estate in a Buyer’s Market: What Nest Box Programs Can Tell Us About American Kestrels

February 4, 2019

American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) are North America’s smallest raptor species. Once regarded as the most common raptor in America, kestrels have been declining across many parts of their large range over the past decades. Nest box programs aimed at addressing the limited breeding habitat for this species have popped up all across the continent, yet…

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Dr. Katharine Parsons – Piping Plover Protection in Massachusetts: Recovering Populations and Facing Climate Change

January 7, 2019

Begun in 1987, Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program (CWP) annually monitors Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) nesting activity and protects habitat at 195 beach sites along 260 km of Massachusetts’ coastline.  Nesting at these locations are approximately 220 pairs of plovers—a third of the Massachusetts population listed as “threatened” under state and federal endangered species laws. …

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Dr. Edward O. Wilson – Half Earth: A plea to save 50% of our lands and oceans for humans and biodiversity

December 3, 2018

Dr. Wilson will be flanked by Peter Alden who will introduce him and guide a lively Q&A from Nuttall and audience members.  Dr. Robert Ridgely will end with a short, illustrated presentation on the history of the Cordillera Azul Antbird recently named for Dr. Wilson. Edward O. Wilson is recognized as one of the creators…

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Dr. David Mizrahi – Connecting the Dots: Understanding Dramatic Declines in a Widespread Migratory Shorebird

November 5, 2018

Dr. Mizrahi will review 20 years of research to unravel connectivity in Semipalmated Sandpipers populations throughout the annual cycle and determine what factors during the winter, migration and breeding periods underlie significant declines in populations, especially those migrating through the Western Atlantic region. He will also discuss conservation efforts that address several of the major…

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Dr. Nils Warnock – Wings over borders – migration and conservation of shorebirds around the Pacific Basin

October 1, 2018

Nils will talk about the migration and conservation of shorebirds around the Pacific Basin, focusing on studies he and collaborators have done over the past 30 years.  His initial research focused on the migration of small shorebirds like the Western Sandpiper and the Dunlin through western North America. More recent work looked at large-scale movements…

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Dr. Geoffrey Hill – Speciation and Sexual Selection as processes to maintain Mitronuclear Coadaptation

June 4, 2018

Eukaryoic performance hinges on the coordinated function of the products of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes in achieving oxidative phosphorylation.  Because two genomes are involved, function is maintained only through perpetual selection for mitonuclear coadaptation.  He will discuss how these fundamental features of the genomic architecture of eukaryotes results in both pre-and post-zygotic sorting for…

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Charles van Rees – Marshbirds in Paradise: The Ecology and Conservation of the Hawaiian Gallinule

May 7, 2018

The Hawaiian Islands have experienced waves of avian extinctions during Polynesian and European colonization, becoming a hotspot for the loss of bird species. Although the plight of Hawaiian forest birds is well known, conservation issues surrounding Hawaiian waterbirds and the wetlands that support them are less well understood. This presentation integrates the full research of…

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David Brinker – Rise and Fall of Northern Goshawks in the Central Appalachian Mountains

April 2, 2018

Persecuted for years as a robber of game, as attitudes have slowly changed and over the past 50 years, Northern Goshawks have expanded their breeding range and increased their population size in the Northeastern U. S., including the Central Appalachians. Since 1977 Dave Brinker has studied goshawks in both Northeastern Wisconsin and the Central Appalachian…

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