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)

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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Dr. Richard (Rob) Bierregaard – Tracking Ospreys in the Age of Silicon: Migration, Ecology, and Conservation

February 5, 2018

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…

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Dr. Jonathan Regosin – Thirty Years of Piping Plover Conservation and Management in Massachusetts: Long-term Trends and Recent Developments

January 8, 2018

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…

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Dr. Amanda Rodewald – A Bird’s Eye View of Nature in the City

December 4, 2017

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…

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Dr. James van Remsen – The cavalcade of discovery of new species and genera of South American bird … and how long will it continue?

November 6, 2017

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…

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Dr. Joel Cracraft – How many “kinds” of birds are there on Earth: the intersection of science and conservation policy

October 2, 2017

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…

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Frank Gill – Bird Species Taxonomy: Then and Now

June 5, 2017

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…

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Dr. Aevar Petersen – Icelandic birds, mainly seabird population changes

May 1, 2017

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…

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Dr. Leonardo Campagna – The genetic basis of plumage differences in the rapid capuchino seedeater radiation

April 3, 2017

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…

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Lorna J. Gibson – Built to Peck: How Woodpeckers Avoid Brain Injury

March 6, 2017

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…

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Michael D. Sorenson – Contrasting Patterns of Genetic Divergence in Obligate Brood Parasites: Implications for the Genetics of Host-Specific Adaptation

February 6, 2017

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…

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Tom Sayers – Rebuilding Local Populations of the American Kestrel – One Box at a Time

January 9, 2017

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.

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Christopher Elphick – Canaries in the Salt Marsh: The Conservation of Saltmarsh Sparrows and other Tidal Marsh Birds

December 5, 2016

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.

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José Antonio Balderrama Torrico – Endemic and Endangered Birds of Bolivia

November 7, 2016

Endemic and Endangered Birds of Bolivia. Presented November 7, 2016.

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Sundev Gombobaatar – Bird Research, Conservation and Birding in Mongolia

October 3, 2016

Dr. Gombobaatar’s presentation covers a brief introduction to Mongolia and bird distribution in different natural habitats, species status and richness, bird research and conservation works, including Regional bird red list and conservation action plans, migration pattern, population threats, birds in wind farms, raptor breeding ecology survey, birding activities, and future actions for Mongolian bird research and conservation. Presented on October 3, 2016.

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Scott Edwards, PhD – Research and Teaching Ornithology at Harvard: Explorations in the New World

June 6, 2016

Research and Teaching Ornithology at Harvard: Explorations in the New World. Presented on June 6, 2016.

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Vincent Spagnuolo – Restore the call: Recent advancements in Common Loon conservation through translocation and health research

May 2, 2016

Recent advancements in Common Loon conservation through translocation and health research. Presented on May 2, 2016.

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Ken Meyer – Seasonal Movements of Rare Florida Raptors: Ecological Intrigue and Conservation Challenges

March 7, 2016

Seasonal movements and ecology of rare Florida raptors: needs and opportunities for protecting Crested Caracaras, Snail Kites, Short-tailed Hawks, and Swallow-tailed Kites. Presented on March 7, 2016.

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John Bates – The Wonders and Tribulations of Africa’s Albertine Rift: Biodiversity, Science and People in a War Zone

February 1, 2016

The Wonders and Tribulations of Africa’s Albertine Rift: Biodiversity, Science and People in a War Zone. Presented on February 1, 2016.

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Tom French – 30 Years Following Peregrine Falcons to Recovery and Beyond

January 4, 2016

Tom discusses his work with Peregrine Falcons in the state, including the impact of raptor photography on knowledge of movements of banded birds. Tom chronicles the loss of nesting Peregrines in the state in 1955 through their current recovery to 32 nesting pairs. Presented on January 4, 2016.

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