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)
Dr. Katharine Parsons – Piping Plover Protection in Massachusetts: Recovering Populations and Facing Climate Change
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. …Read More
Dr. Edward O. Wilson – Half Earth: A plea to save 50% of our lands and oceans for humans and biodiversity
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…Read More
Dr. David Mizrahi – Connecting the Dots: Understanding Dramatic Declines in a Widespread Migratory Shorebird
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…Read More
Dr. Nils Warnock – Wings over borders – migration and conservation of shorebirds around the Pacific Basin
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…Read More
Dr. Geoffrey Hill – Speciation and Sexual Selection as processes to maintain Mitronuclear Coadaptation
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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.…Read More
Dr. Richard (Rob) Bierregaard – Tracking Ospreys in the Age of Silicon: Migration, Ecology, and Conservation
When, in the mid 1990s, technological advances permitted us to build radio transmitters capable of sending signals to satellites orbiting the earth and small enough to place on an Osprey, windows into their lives away from the nest were thrown wide open. Thanks to bird band recoveries, we already knew that most North American Ospreys…Read More
Dr. Jonathan Regosin – Thirty Years of Piping Plover Conservation and Management in Massachusetts: Long-term Trends and Recent Developments
The Piping Plover is a state and federally threatened shorebird, with about 10,000 adults remaining, worldwide. Massachusetts has an important role to play in Piping Plover conservation, accounting for approximately 40% of the Piping Plovers breeding on the Atlantic Coast. The speaker will review 30 years of progress in Piping Plover conservation and research, challenges…Read More
With urban land expected to triple between 2000-2030, understanding the ecology of cities is sorely needed to safeguard ecosystem services, biodiversity, and our own well-being. One common target of urban conservation is birds, owing to both their charisma and sensitivity to environmental change. Though urban development is a real threat to birds across all ecosystem…Read More
Dr. James van Remsen – The cavalcade of discovery of new species and genera of South American bird … and how long will it continue?
In the 1950s, Ernst Mayr said that the age of discovery of new species of birds had largely ended. Since then, at least 125 new species of birds have been discovered in South America alone, including more than 40 by the LSU Museum of Natural Science. This represents an increase in species richness of about…Read More
Dr. Joel Cracraft – How many “kinds” of birds are there on Earth: the intersection of science and conservation policy
Scientists have long debated the idea of species, and these different conceptions have impacted the way we understand how birds evolved. These debates have also influenced people’s views of avian diversity as well as avian conservation policy. This talk will lay out these debates and show how they have real-world consequences for conserving global avian…Read More
Major changes in world bird taxonomy are underway, driven by advances in speciation concepts and practices. World bird lists are challenged to keep up with the surge in the number of species recognized, together with their nomenclature and phylogeny. Birders are challenged to keep up with the lumps, splits, name changes, and sequences. This talk…Read More
The talk will focus on three main issues; (1) introduction to the Icelandic bird fauna; (2) seabirds and factors influencing population changes; and (3) seabird monitoring as a conservation tool. The breeding bird fauna of Iceland has rather few species, about 80, but this is made up in numbers. The principal bird groups are anseriform…Read More
Dr. Leonardo Campagna – The genetic basis of plumage differences in the rapid capuchino seedeater radiation
As an evolutionary biologist I seek to understand how biological diversity is generated at the molecular level. I study a group of South American birds known as capuchino seedeaters, which may still be in the process of becoming species. Capuchinos are sexually dimorphic, and males from different species differ in secondary sexual characters such as…Read More
Woodpeckers peck on trees to feed on insects and sap, to build cavity nests and to drum during courtship. Measurements by a group of neurologists in the 1970s, using high speed video, indicate that woodpeckers can tolerate remarkably high decelerations on impact: up to 1500g, much higher than the level of 100g that causes brain…Read More
Michael D. Sorenson – Contrasting Patterns of Genetic Divergence in Obligate Brood Parasites: Implications for the Genetics of Host-Specific Adaptation
Avian brood parasites and their hosts have served as important models of coevolution and have produced a spectacular diversity of behavioral, morphological and physiological adaptations and counter-adaptations, our knowledge of which has expanded as additional species in Asia and the southern hemisphere have received intensive study. Until recently, essentially nothing was known about the genetic…Read More
This presentation focuses on Tom’s energetic crusade to rebuild the American Kestrel population in northeast Connecticut, from 2009 when he began, up through the 2016 breeding season. Presented on January 9, 2017.Read More
Christopher Elphick – Canaries in the Salt Marsh: The Conservation of Saltmarsh Sparrows and other Tidal Marsh Birds
This talk describes the status of tidal marsh birds throughout the northeast, and focuses on the specific threats faced by Saltmarsh Sparrows. Presented on December 5, 2016.Read More