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.
Sarah Knutie - Finch in a pinch: effects of environmental change on endemic birds in the Galapagos Islands
October 4, 2021
Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Faculty Affiliate at the University of Connecticut Institute for Systems Genomics
The overarching theme of the Knutie Lab is to understand how birds defend themselves against disease-causing parasites, particularly in response to environmental change. Her talk will take us to the Galapagos Islands, where she uses experimental field studies to determine the effects of an invasive parasitic nest fly on endemic birds, whether these naive birds can defend themselves against the parasite, and how recent urbanization is affecting bird-parasite relationships. She will also talk about unique management strategies for the parasite to help conserve endemic birds.
Dr. Sarah Knutie is an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Faculty Affiliate at the University of Connecticut Institute for Systems Genomics. She is a National Geographic Explorer, and serves as Faculty Advisor for the UConn chapter of the Ecological Society of America’s flagship and award-winning SEEDS program, which aims to increase participation and leadership by underrepresented students in the field of ecology. Her research interests include disease biology, ecotoxicology, host-microbe interactions, environmental change, immunology, and animal behavior. Dr. Knutie has a BS from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, a MSc from the University of Tulsa, and a PhD from the University of Utah.
Mary Caswell Stoddard - Colorful birds, exquisite eggshells, and other avian adventures
November 1, 2021
Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University
Birds evolved about 150 million years ago, and today they are the most diverse and colorful land vertebrates. In my group, we are fascinated by the ecological and evolutionary processes that contribute to avian diversity. In the field, we are establishing a system for studying color perception in wild hummingbirds in the Rocky Mountains. These tiny iridescent birds lead colorful lives, performing spectacular courtship dives and pollinating diverse wildflowers. We also study the avian egg, a remarkable structure that is built to break. The eggs laid by stealthy cuckoos and flightless emus offer insights into avian behavior and evolution.
Mary Caswell Stoddard (Cassie) is an associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. Dr. Stoddard received her undergraduate degree from Yale University. On a Marshall Scholarship, she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge before joining the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow. Stoddard is a research affiliate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. She was a 2018 Sloan Research Fellow and is a current Packard Fellow.
Jonathan Slaght - Owls of the Eastern Ice: Blakiston's Fish Owl Conservation in Russia
December 6, 2021
Russia & Northeast Asia Coordinator for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society
From 2006-2010, Jonathan Slaght studied Blakiston’s fish owls in Russia for his PhD degree in Wildlife Conservation at the University of Minnesota. These enormous and endangered salmon-eaters live in some of the hardest-to-reach corners of northeast Asia, on the fringes of human civilization. Slaght’s memoir of this experience, called “Owls of the Eastern Ice,” was published in summer 2020 to acclaim. It was a New York Times “Notable Book for 2020”, long-listed for a 2020 National Book Award, one of the Wall Street Journal’s “Ten Best Books of 2020,” and winner of the 2021 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Here, he will describe the owls and his project, including details of the adventures and struggles of fieldwork, and on-going conservation efforts with this endangered species.
Jonathan Slaght is the Russia & Northeast Asia Coordinator for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). He manages research projects involving endangered species such as Blakiston’s fish owls and Amur tigers, and coordinates WCS avian conservation activities along the East Asia-Australasian Flyway from the Russian Arctic to the mudflats of Southeast Asia. Dr. Slaght’s writings, scientific research, and photographs have been featured by the BBC World Service, the New York Times, The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, The New Yorker, and Audubon Magazine, among others.
Barbara Vickery and Scott Weidensaul - Birds of Maine: A Life's Legacy
January 3, 2022
Editors, Birds of Maine
Written by the late Peter Vickery in cooperation with a distinguished team of co-authors and editors, the recently published Birds of Maine is the first comprehensive overview of Maine’s rich birdlife in 70 years. Peter, elected to NOC in 1984, spent much of his career focusing on the ecology of grassland birds in New England, Florida and Argentina, resulting in several books and many publications. However, Birds of Maine represents the culmination of his true life's work, documenting the avifauna of his beloved home state.
Birds of Maine includes detailed accounts of all 464 species recorded in the Pine Tree State. It is also a portrait of a region undergoing rapid changes, with southern birds pushing north, northern birds expanding south, and once-absent natives like Atlantic Puffins brought back by innovative conservation techniques pioneered in Maine. It includes information on migration patterns and timing, changes in abundance and distribution, and how Maine’s geography and shifting climate mold its birdlife. it also illuminates the conservation status for Maine’s birds, causes of declines and reasons for hope.
We will outline how the book, co-published by Nuttall Ornithological Club, came to be and what sets it apart.
Barbara Vickery, Peter’s wife and life partner, shared the managing editorship of Birds of Maine with Scott Weidensaul. Barbara was a conservation biologist for The Nature Conservancy in Maine for 33 years, most recently as Conservation Director. She retired in 2017 at the time of Peter’s death and devoted the next three years to ensuring the completion of Birds of Maine.
Scott Weidensaul is the author of more than two dozen books on natural history, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist "Living on the Wind" and his latest, the New York Times bestseller "A World on the Wing." Weidensaul is a contributing editor for Audubon, a columnist for Bird Watcher's Digest and writes for a variety of other publications, including Living Bird. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society and an active field researcher, studying saw-whet owl migration for more than two decades, as well as winter hummingbirds, bird migration in Alaska, and the winter movements of snowy owls through Project SNOWstorm, which he co-founded. A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in New Hampshire.
(NOC members, login to view and listen to presentations)
Gail Patricelli – Robots, Telemetry, and the Sex Lives of Wild Birds using technology to study and protect an enigmatic bird
Professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology University of California, Davis Animals use a dizzying array of sounds, smells, colors, dances, electrical fields and seismic vibrations to convince each other to mate. These elaborate courtship signals were a mystery until Darwin’s time—after proposing his theory of natural selection, Darwin was left with the question of how…Read More
Jennie Duberstein – Working across borders to conserve birds and habitats in the southwest US and northwest Mexico
Sonoran Joint Venture Coordinator U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 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…Read More
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…Read More
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 Migratory bird populations are undergoing rapid changes at present. Shifts in the timing of migration and breeding, and in range and abundance, are…Read More
Professor of Applied Ecology at the University of East Anglia (UEA) 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.…Read More
Pat Jodice – Searching Sea and Land for the Little Devil: The Ecology and Conservation of the Black-capped Petrel
Leader, U.S. Geological Survey South Carolina Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit and 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…Read More
Associate Research Professor of History of Claremont Graduate University and Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science and Technology at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens 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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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?
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…Read More
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…Read More
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,…Read More
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)…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
Emily DuVal – Dancing Birds, Sexual Selection, and the Evolution of Cooperation in a Tropical Forest
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,…Read More
Richard Prum – Mate Choice, Sexual Conflict, and Sexual Autonomy: Everything you ever wanted to know about duck sex, but were afraid to ask
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…Read More
Matthew Kamm – Avian Real Estate in a Buyer’s Market: What Nest Box Programs Can Tell Us About American Kestrels
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…Read More