Upcoming Programs

We are pleased to announce that Nuttall monthly meetings are back in person at Harvard.

Kristen Ruegg--The Bird Genoscape Project: Harnessing the power of genomics for migratory bird conservation

October 2, 2023

Assistant Professor at Colorado State University

Most populations of migratory birds are now threatened. It is estimated that the populations of 1 out of every 2 songbirds are declining in the Western Hemisphere with impacts predicted to worsen with climate change. However, because migratory birds have both breeding, migratory and wintering areas and may move vast distances between them, understanding where the steepest population declines are occurring has been difficult or impossible. In my presentation, I will describe our work to address this critical issue as part of The Bird Genoscape Project – an effort to bring together scientists from across the Western Hemisphere to map the migratory routes of migratory songbirds across the Western Hemisphere using genomics.

Kristen Ruegg is an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University whose research focuses on the development of innovative genetic-based tools to conserve migratory birds in the face of climate change and other stressors. Ruegg is also the co-founder and co-director of the Bird Genoscape Project whose main goals are: 1) to create comprehensive, visually impactful, migratory flyway maps for birds that can be used to motivate conservation efforts across geographic and political boundaries, and 2) to map the potential for bird populations to adapt to climate change. Ruegg’s presentation will focus on the use of data from the Bird Genoscape Project to understand the process of natural selection across the annual cycle. When not overseeing research as part of the Bird Genoscape Project, Ruegg can be found working to bridge partnerships between academia, NGO’s and governmental agencies across the US, Canada and Latin America in order to translate the science of the Bird Genoscape Project into conservation action.

Richard Primack and Amanda Gallinat -- Concord Birds, Climate change, and Thoreau

November 6, 2023


The detailed records of bird sightings and phenological observations around Concord from the last 170 years—from Thoreau, Brewster, and Griscom’s notes to today’s studies by scientists at Boston University—provide a key to studying how climate change is affecting bird migration. Boston University professor Richard Primack and Colby College visiting assistant professor Amanda Gallinat present their recent research and unexpected new findings from eBird data collected in Concord.

Richard Primack is a professor of plant ecology at Boston University. He is the former Editor in Chief of the journal Biological Conservation and the author of leading textbooks in conservation biology. For the past 21 years, he and his students have investigating the effects of climate change on the plants and birds of Thoreau’s Concord.

Amanda Gallinat is a visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Colby College. Her research investigates the effects of climate change on the timing of seasonal events, with a focus on resource availability for New England's migratory birds. This work uses data from banding stations, herbaria, botanical gardens, and observations of plants and animals made by volunteers across the USA.

Past Programs

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David N. Bonter – Public engagement in science: For birds, people, and conservation

June 5, 2023

Public engagement in science: For birds, people, and conservation Studying birds provide a remarkable window into the coupling of natural and human systems. This presentation will explore what we have learned about birds and people through engaging the public in scientific research. With a focus on Project FeederWatch (www.feederwatch.org), a program with data from more…

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Pepper Trail – Fighting Crime with Feathers: The Casebook of a Forensic Ornithologist

May 1, 2023

Forensic Ornithologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory Dr. Pepper Trail served as the senior forensic ornithologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement for over 20 years. During this time, he worked on over 2000 cases, identifying bird remains submitted as evidence in wildlife crime investigations. This evidence…

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Rebecca Jo Safran – The role of adaptation in phenotype divergence and speciation: an integrative and comparative perspective

April 3, 2023

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Colorado-Boulder Evolutionary mechanisms lead to changes in the phenotypic and genomic features of populations; population genetics and patterns of phenotype differentiation are often used to infer which of these mechanisms are at work. Here, I highlight the need to more directly study the underlying…

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Amber Roth – A 25-year journey to recover a rapidly declining forest songbird, the Golden-winged Warbler

March 6, 2023

Assistant Professor of Forest Wildlife Management, University of Maine Dr. Amber Roth began studying Golden-winged Warbler in 1998 as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. Little did she know then that this was the beginning of a long journey of research, monitoring, and conservation to aid this rapidly declining migratory forest species. Today…

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Brian Olsen – Adapting to Novelty: what tidal marsh birds can teach us about evolving to meet new challenges

February 6, 2023

Professor of Ornithology, University of Maine Tidal marshes of the Atlantic coast of North America are host to a suite of specialized bird taxa, but tidal marshes themselves are geological ephemeral and these taxa are the descendants of species from other ecosystems. Despite their various origins, tidal marsh colonizers share a suite of adaptations and…

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Steven C. Latta – No Fool’s Errand: A Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Louisiana

January 9, 2023

Director of Conservation and Field Research, National Aviary in Pittsburgh The history of decline of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is long, complex, and controversial. The last widely accepted sighting of this species in continental North America was 1944. A collaboration between Project Principalis and the National Aviary has produced personal observations, sound recordings, trail camera photos,…

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Michael Romero – Stress in Birds

December 5, 2022

L. Michael Romero is Professor of Biology at Tufts University In contrast to stress-related disease in humans, the stress response is vital for helping wild birds survive in their natural habitats. I will present research showing that the hormonal and physiological responses to stress are important for birds to survive natural stressors such as storms,…

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Pete Marra – The Epic Migrations of Birds

November 7, 2022

Pete Marra is Director of the Earth Commons: Georgetown University’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Laudato Si’ Professor in Biology and the Environment, and Professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy Migration is one of the most engaging phenomena of the animal world and one epitomized by birds. Migratory birds are the Olympiads of…

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Bridget Stutchbury – Why Is Tropical Bird Behavior So Different?

October 3, 2022

Bridget Stutchbury is Professor in the Department of Biology at York University, Toronto Dr. Bridget Stutchbury explores why the tropics is a unique natural laboratory that has led to unusual and varied bird behavior compared with temperate-breeding species. A large majority of research on bird behavior has focussed on North American and European breeding birds,…

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Lauryn Benedict – Divas in the treetops: When and why do female birds sing?

June 6, 2022

Lauryn Benedict is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado Female bird song is more common and widespread than is generally appreciated. In this presentation Dr. Lauryn Benedict will give an overview of female bird song prevalence and variety. She will discuss what we can learn by studying the songs of female…

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Allan Strong: The Bobolink Project: Payments for Ecosystem Services to Conserve Grassland Birds

May 2, 2022

Dr. Allan Strong is a Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. In response to continent-wide population declines in the suite of birds that nest in agricultural habitats, we initiated a payment for ecosystem services program called The Bobolink Project. Beginning in Rhode Island and expanding to…

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Tim Birkhead – How we know what we know about birds

April 4, 2022

Tim Birkhead is a Fellow of the Royal Society and emeritus professor of behaviour and evolution at the University of Sheffield We take so much for granted when it comes to birds, but where did our knowledge come from? Although people had been intrigued by birds since the palaeolithic, it was only with the scientific…

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Autumn-Lynn Harrison – Uniting across hemispheres to discover unknown migratory pathways of birds: Advancing scientific knowledge and translating to conservation

March 7, 2022

Dr. Autumn-Lynn Harrison is a research ecologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and is the program manager of the Migratory Connectivity Project Join Dr. Autumn-Lynn Harrison, a marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, as she shares results from two hemispheric-scale tracking projects, and how the data have been translated into global policy…

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Daniel Field – The Dinosaur Resurrection: How the Demise of the Dinosaurs Paved the Way for the Origin of Modern Birds

February 8, 2022

Daniel Field is a lecturer in the Earth Sciences Department at Cambridge, and the Strickland Curator of Ornithology at the University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology Modern birds are the most diverse group of terrestrial vertebrate animals, comprising nearly 11,000 living species. They inhabit virtually every corner of the modern world, and exhibit a mind-boggling…

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Barbara Vickery and Scott Weidensaul – Birds of Maine: A Life’s Legacy

January 3, 2022

Barbara Vickery and Scott Weidensaul co-edited 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…

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Jonathan Slaght – Owls of the Eastern Ice: Blakiston’s Fish Owl Conservation in Russia

December 6, 2021

Jonathan Slaght is the Russia & Northeast Asia Coordinator for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) 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…

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Mary Caswell Stoddard – Colorful birds, exquisite eggshells, and other avian adventures

November 1, 2021

Mary Caswell Stoddard (Cassie) is an 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…

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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 University of Connecticut Institute for Systems Geonomics 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…

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Gail Patricelli – Robots, Telemetry, and the Sex Lives of Wild Birds using technology to study and protect an enigmatic bird

June 7, 2021

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…

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

May 3, 2021

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…

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