Upcoming Programs

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.  The CWP has investigated occurring and predicted climate change impacts to beach nesting Piping Plovers including rates of nest overwash.  In addition, we have evaluated the impact of beach stabilization practices such as renourishment and beach re-vegetation on brood range and overall nesting success.  Very little information is available to assist in guiding these practices with regard to optimizing habitat for plovers.  As coastal conditions worsen from climate change effects, the stakes will increase for both protecting the built environment and providing beach habitat for endangered wildlife.

Katharine Parsons, Ph.D., Director, Coastal Waterbird Program, Mass Audubon, received her Bachelor’s degree from Smith College and Ph.D. in Ecology from Rutgers University.  She has 35 years of experience in coastal waterbird research, management and policy in the northeast.  Since 2011, Dr. Parsons has directed Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program which works with coastal communities throughout Massachusetts to protect rare birds and their habitats. Her research has been published in over 45 peer-reviewed scientific publications. She is past-President of the Waterbird Society. In addition, Dr. Parsons is a Lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design where she has taught courses in landscape ecology, and currently teaches a seminar in coastal ecology entitled Changing Natural and Built Coastal Environments.  over 45 peer-reviewed scientific publications. She is past-President of the Waterbird Society. In addition, Dr. Parsons is a Lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design where she has taught courses in landscape ecology, and currently teaches a seminar in coastal ecology entitled Changing Natural and Built Coastal Environments.

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 in many cases, occupancy rates in these artificial cavities are low. What separates the good real estate from the bad? How do the kestrel's prospects look as we enter the 21st century? This presentation offers a few answers, and a lot more questions.

After graduating from Brandeis University in 2009, Matt decided to turn his love of birds into a career with Mass Audubon. As a Bird Conservation Assistant, he did field surveys and writing for the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas 2, collaborated on the first two State of the Birds reports, adapted Audubon Vermont's successful Foresters for the Birds program for Massachusetts, and launched Mass Audubon's American Kestrel Nest Box program. He is currently a Ph.D Candidate working with Dr. Michael Reed at Tufts University, where he collects data on 100+ kestrel nest boxes across Massachusetts to learn more about habitat use in these fascinating falcons.

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 presentation highlights key findings revealed by these studies; including new information on offshore migratory routes to wintering destinations in the Caribbean and South America; and influences of weather patterns such as supportive tail-winds and deflection by hurricanes. This effort is funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and provides new information for assessments of proposed offshore energy facilities in the U.S. Atlantic.

Pam Loring is a Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Birds, and works on a range of projects related to the conservation and management of shorebirds and seabirds throughout the Western Hemisphere. She received a PhD in Environmental Conservation from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a MS in Biological and Environmental Sciences from the University of Rhode Island. For her graduate research, she used satellite and digital VHF technology to estimate movement patterns and habitat use of seaducks, shorebirds, and terns in the western North Atlantic.

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 from and even scolding anyone who threatens or harms them and quickly learning to recognize and approach those who care for and feed them, even giving them numerous, oddly touching gifts in return. The ongoing connection between humans and crows—a cultural co-evolution—has shaped both species for millions of years. And the characteristics of crows that allow this symbiotic relationship are language, delinquency, frolic, passion, wrath, risk-taking, and awareness—seven traits that humans find strangely familiar.

With his extraordinary research on the intelligence and startling abilities of corvids—crows, ravens, and jays—scientist John Marzluff tells amazing stories of these brilliant birds in Gifts of the Crow, shining a light on their fascinating characteristics and behaviors. Teamed with artist and fellow naturalist Tony Angell, they offer an in-depth look at these complex creatures and our shared behaviors, illustrated with gorgeous line drawings. Crows gather around their dead, warn of impending doom, recognize people, commit murder of other crows, lure fish and birds to their death, drink beer, turn on lights to stay warm, design and use tools, use cars as nutcrackers, windsurf and sled to play, and work in tandem to get cheese whiz out of a can.  Their marvelous brains allow them to think, plan, and reconsider their actions.

With its abundance of funny, awe-inspiring, and poignant stories, Gifts of the Crow portrays creatures who are nothing short of amazing. A testament to years of painstaking research, this fully illustrated, riveting work is a thrilling look at one of nature’s most wondrous creatures.

John Marzluff, Ph.D., is Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington.  His research has been the focus of articles in the New York Times, National Geographic, Audubon, Boys Life, The Seattle Times, and National Wildlife.  PBS’s NATURE featured his raven research in its production, "Ravens," and his crow research in the film documentary, "A Murder of Crows."

Extended Biography:

John Marzluff is James W. Ridgeway Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington.  His graduate (Northern Arizona University) and initial post-doctoral (University of Vermont) research focused on the social behavior and ecology of jays and ravens.  He was especially interested in communication, social organization, and foraging behavior (e.g., The Pinyon Jay, 1992, Academic Press).  His current research brings this behavioral approach to pressing conservation issues including raptor management, management of pest species, and assessment of nest predation.  His book, In the Company of Crows and Ravens (with Tony Angell, 2005 Yale U. Press) blends biology, conservation, and anthropology to suggest that human and crow cultures have co-evolved.  This book won the 2006 Washington State Book Award for general nonfiction.  With his wife, Colleen, he has just published Dog Days, Raven Nights (2011 Yale University Press), which combines reflection with biology and the recreational pursuit of dog sledding to show how a life in science blooms.  Gifts of the Crow (2012 Free Press) applies a neurobiological perspective to understand the amazing feats of corvids.  Welcome to Subirdia (2015 Yale University Press) details the urban ecology of birds, their challenges and triumphs, and how we can best conserve them. He has led studies on the effects of military training on falcons and eagles in southwestern Idaho, the effects of timber harvest, recreation, and forest fragmentation on goshawks and marbled murrelets in western Washington and Oregon, conservation strategies for Pacific Island crows, and the effects of urbanization on songbirds in the Seattle area.  Dr. Marzluff has authored over 150 scientific papers on various aspects of bird behavior and wildlife management.  He is a member of the board of editors for Acta Ornithologica, Landscape Ecology and Ecological Applications.  He has edited Avian Conservation: Research and Management that includes 40 chapters detailing research approaches to conserve avian biodiversity throughout the world (1998, Island Press), Avian Conservation and Ecology in an Urbanizing World (2001, Kluwer Academic Publishers), Radiotelemetry and Animal Populations (2001, Academic Press), Urban Ecology: An International Perspective on the Interaction Between Humans and Nature (2008, Springer), and Perspectives in Urban Ecology (2011, Springer). He is currently a member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Team for the critically endangered Mariana Crow, a former member of the Washington Biodiversity Council, and a Fellow of the American Ornithologist's Union.

Past Programs

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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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Steve Hilty – Colombia: Then and Now

December 7, 2015

The focus of this presentation is a look at Colombia and its remarkable biological diversity through the eyes of a young ornithologist, and his wife, as they struggled to carry out fieldwork in the early 1970s. This is followed by a look at Colombia’s unique ornithological history, and its fledgling ecotourism of the late 1970s…

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Tom Stephenson – The Warbler Guide: A New Approach to ID

November 2, 2015

Identifying the warblers and other species singing in the field is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying aspects of birding. However learning and remembering the important ID points of difficult and similar vocalizations can be challenging. This lecture will cover many new techniques that make it easier to identify singing warblers and other species.…

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Tim Laman – Ornithological Adventures in Australia’s Cape York Peninsula

October 5, 2015

In the last couple years, Tim has made several expeditions to the Cape York Peninsula, Australia, photographing, filming, and doing biodiversity survey expeditions, focusing a lot around birds.  It is an area the size of Florida with less than 2000 people (compared to 20 million in FL). His longest expedition was a six-week trip by…

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Mario Cohn-Haft – Birds of the Amazon Revisited: Haffer’s Legacy 40 years Later

June 1, 2015

Nuttall Ornithological Club’s publication number 14 elaborated, in 1974, the most complete and carefully thought-out explanation for the marvelous patterns of distribution of Amazonian birds that has been proposed to this day. Its author, Jurgen Haffer, made a brilliant contribution to the field of South American biogeography that continues to be a powerful influence. But…

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Peter Pyle – Discovering and Conserving Bryan’s Shearwater

May 4, 2015

Bryan’s Shearwater (Puffinus bryani), was described as new to science by Pyle, A. J. Welch, and R. C. Fleischer in 2011, based on a specimen collected in February 1963 on Midway Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Peter will recount discovery of the new species and it’s etymology (named after his grandfather, long-time curator at the Bishop…

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Allison Shultz – History of the House Finch: Introductions, Novel Pathogens and Rapid Adaptation

April 6, 2015

Human-mediated introductions of species into new environments are common today with the ease of global travel, whether they be accidental or intentional. It is critical to understand the genetic effects these introductions have on the new populations as they adapt to their environment and face novel challenges, including diseases. The House Finch, a species native…

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David Wiley / Kevin Powers – Preliminary Results of Great Shearwater Habitat Use in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

March 2, 2015

Dr. David Wiley and Kevin Powers will discuss their research on Great Shearwaters. For the past three years the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary’s science team and collaborators have placed satellite tags on Great Shearwaters to investigate patterns of habitat use, long range movements and bycatch in commercial fisheries. The team is also investigating food…

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Roni Martinez – Neotropical Raptor Research & Conservation

February 3, 2015

Roni Martinez was born in Belize and has always been submersed in nature. He worked as a natural history guide at Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize from 2004 until mid-2014. In 2009, he became Blancaneaux’s first Conservation Officer, the first such position in Belize. In this position, he worked along with many different researchers and conservation…

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Kim Peters – How Airfields in the Northeast Can Provide Benefits to Grassland Birds, Maintain Aircraft Safety and Support Broad-scale Conservation for Declining Species

January 5, 2015

Species associated with grasslands and other open spaces represent one of the most imperiled and rapidly declining groups of birds in North America.  The Northeastern U.S. is increasingly being recognized as an important source of breeding habitat.  For grasshopper sparrows, upland sandpipers, and eastern meadowlarks, airfields provide the some of the largest breeding sites in…

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Jeff Gordon – How Birding Can Save Your Life and Maybe, Just Maybe, Save the World

December 1, 2014

Alvaro Jaramillo has said that if golf is a good walk spoiled, then birding is a good walk perfected.  It’s such a simple, compelling, positive message.  But that positivity is something that birders as a community have relatively rarely managed to convey.  Why is it that with as great a “product” to sell as the…

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Shiloh Schulte – Arctic Shorebirds of Coats Island, Canada

November 3, 2014

Each year tiny Semipalmated Sandpipers and their larger relatives make a tremendously difficult trip from their South American wintering grounds to their breeding territories in the Arctic.  In recent years the eastern population of Semipalmated Sandpipers has declined sharply and  Manomet scientists set out to discover why.  Traveling to a remote field camp on Coats…

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Jennifer Mortensen – The White-Breasted Thrasher: An Endangered, Cooperative Breeder

October 6, 2014

The White-breasted Thrasher, described as a “very rare bird” by James Bond in 1928, continues to be rare today.  We have been studying White-breasted Thrasher demography and cooperative behavior at the stronghold of its Saint Lucian distribution, the site of recent, significant habitat loss.  Here I will present on the species’ natural history, our ongoing…

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Andrew Vitz – Why are Songbirds so Hard to Locate in Midsummer: An Examination of the Post-fledging Period

June 2, 2014

Andrew Vitz, who is from Cincinnati, Ohio, earned a BS from the University of Wisconsin and his MS and PhD from Ohio State University, studying the post-fledging ecology of forest songbirds. Dr Vitz worked four years as an avian ecologist for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pennsylvania before being appointed Massachusetts State Ornithologist…

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Robert M. Zink – Sisyphean Evolution in Darwin’s Finches

May 5, 2014

Robert M. Zink, leading scholar in avian evolution, holds the Breckenridge Chair in Ornithology and has served as Curator of Birds at the Bell Museum of Natural History and as Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. Dr Zink earned his BS at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in 1977 and his…

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