Upcoming Programs

PLEASE NOTE: Upcoming Nuttall monthly meetings will be held virtually until it is safe to meet in person. Details will be provided as they become available.

Bridget Stutchbury - Why Is Tropical Bird Behavior So Different?

October 3, 2022

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, largely out of convenience. Over the past few decades, research on tropical birds has surged because so many species are highly threatened. It is a race against time to understand the many evolutionary quirks of tropical birds including year-round and stable territories, equal sex roles in parenting, females who sing and are brightly colored & aggressive, and males who dance together to attract females. We also are beginning to understand how behavior helps or hinders tropical birds when their forests are fragmented and their climate changes.

Bridget Stutchbury is a Professor in the Department of Biology at York University, Toronto. She did her M.Sc. at Queen’s University, her Ph.D. at Yale and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Since the 1980s, she has studied songbirds to understand their behavior, ecology and conservation but has also witnessed first-hand the shocking declines of many species such as tree swallows, bobolinks, and wood thrushes. Dr. Stutchbury has studied the behavior of tropical birds in Panama and the incredible migration journeys of North American songbirds who winter in the tropics. She is author of Silence of the Songbirds (2007) and The Private Lives of Birds (2010) and was featured in the The Messenger, an award-winning 2015 documentary on songbird declines. Her most recent book Behavioural Ecology of Tropical Birds 2nd edition (2022) was written for an academic audience, but every naturalist will delight in new discoveries.

 

Pete Marra - The Epic Migrations of Birds

November 7, 2022

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 the natural world - traveling extreme distances, flying at night in flocks of tens of thousands of individuals, and moving through treacherous terrain with untold obstacles threatening their every move. Today, over 50% of North America’s migratory species are declining at unprecedented rates – and for most of these species we don’t know why.
Marra will take us on a hemispheric journey to discover the unknown migrations of the birds, explaining the latest technologies used for tracking and why it’s up to us to uncover the secrets of their biology to protect these marvelous species.

Pete Marra earned a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College in 1998 and an M.S. from Louisiana State University in 1989 and 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. Marra recently moved to Georgetown University after a 20-year career at the Smithsonian Institution, most recently as Director of the Migratory Bird Center. Marra uses birds to help us define and understand broad environmental issues, tackling contemporary conservation challenges by addressing fundamental knowledge gaps at the intersection of ornithology, ecology and conservation biology. His transformative work—including quantifying the loss of 3 billion birds from North America, the impacts of climate change, the astounding ecological destruction of outdoor cats and emerging diseases such as West Nile virus—explores the interaction between humans and our environment and poses critical questions to humanity about the environmental costs of urbanization and globalization. His work spans biology, engineering, physiology, and biogeochemistry, and has helped ignite new research into the study of full life cycles of migratory animals while furthering technological advances, including the use of genetics, stable isotopes and remote tracking technologies. With over 250 peer-reviewed papers, Marra uses integrative techniques and rigorous quantitative approaches, leveraging data to link fundamental ecological advances to address conservation problems and reimagine approaches that inform policy. Over 55 current and former students and his position as founding director of the Earth Commons, demonstrate Marra’s dedication to moving research to implementation and educating the next generation of diverse scientists.

 

 

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

December 5, 2022

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.

 

Past Programs

(NOC members, login to view and listen to presentations)

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

José Antonio Balderrama Torrico – Endemic and Endangered Birds of Bolivia

November 7, 2016

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

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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…

Read More

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.…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More