Upcoming Programs

PLEASE NOTE: Upcoming Nuttall monthly meetings (October to January, at least) will be held virtually. Details will be provided to members as they become available.

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 that kidnap helpers, honeyeaters that farm insects (leading to thousands of tree deaths), and the world’s most promiscuous songbirds. Australia has also given the world many parrots and pigeons, including the dodo. Its cassowaries are the world’s most dangerous garden birds, responsible for serious injuries and human deaths.

Tim Low is an Australian biologist, environmental consultant and best-selling author of seven books about nature and conservation. His Where Song Began won the Australian Book Industry Award for best general non-fiction as well as other prizes. It was strongly praised in the New York Review of Books and recommended by Scientific American. An earlier book, Feral Future, inspired the formation of the Invasive Species Council, an Australian conservation organization that campaigns for better policies on invasive species. Tim’s articles have appeared in Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has decades of experience as a field zoologist and botanist, having discovered several new lizard species, including one named after him. He has watched birds on every continent.

Morgan Tingley – The Journey of Birds Across Space and Time

November 2, 2020

Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles


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 in a multitude of ways. Join Dr. Tingley on a journey across our nation and through the last century, walking in the footsteps of past zoologists to compare their world to the one we see today, to learn how climate change has already dramatically changed the lives of birds.

Morgan Tingley is an Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He joined the faculty at UCLA in 2020, after previously serving as an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut and as a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow at Princeton University. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to this, he received a B.A. from Harvard University and a M.Sc. from Oxford University. He is an elected fellow of the American Ornithological Society and a research associate with the Institute for Bird Populations. He is a recipient of the “Wings across the Americas” conservation award from the U.S. Forest Service, and the Young Professional Award from the Cooper Ornithological Society. His research papers have been covered widely by the popular press, including features by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

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.

Past Programs

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

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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Dr. Daniel Mennill – Wild birds learn to sing from experimental vocal tutors

March 5, 2018

In eight groups of animals, including humans and songbirds, young animals learn to vocalize by listening to adults. Experimental evidence from laboratory studies supports this hypothesis for vocal learning, however there is no experimental evidence of vocal learning in wild animals. Dr. Mennill developed an innovative playback technology to simulate vocal tutors in the wild.…

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