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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Mia Revels – Natural History of the Swainson’s Warbler

April 7, 2014

Dr. Mia Revels, an associate professor of biology at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, has risen to the challenge of assessing the status of Swainson’s Warbler in Oklahoma. Revels’ was an undergraduate at Northeastern State and received her degree in natural sciences and science education. She then earned a Master of Science in natural…

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Robert McCracken Peck – Audubon in the West

March 3, 2014

Robert McCracken Peck, Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, is a writer, naturalist and historian who has traveled extensively in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. He served as Special Assistant to the Academy’s President and Director of the Academy’s Natural History Museum before being named Fellow of the…

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Diego Calderón-Franco – Colombia: A Plethora of Birds New to Science

February 3, 2014

Diego Calderón-Franco was born in Medellín, Colombia and studied biology at the Universidad de Antioquia. He has been involved in exploring poorly-known, remote areas in the Neotropics with an emphasis on Colombia. He has been active in central Andes exploration and bird survey work, several audio recording projects, and research on manakin display behavior in…

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Gerrit Vyn – Chasing a Unicorn: Expeditions to Capture the First Comprehensive Media of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper

January 6, 2014

Also see: supplementary video Gerrit Vyn is a Seattle-based photographer deeply committed to conservation and connecting people more intimately with the myriad creatures sharing this miraculous and fragile planet. His work often focuses on birds because they are powerful and visible indicators of environmental health and change. Gerrit’s images have been used by most major…

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Carol R. Foss, PhD – The Rusty Blackbird: Elusive Denizen of Northern Wetlands

December 2, 2013

Carol Foss, Director of Conservation at Audubon Society of New Hampshire, holds a B.A. in Biology from Colby College, a M.S. in Zoology from the University of Connecticut, and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine. Carol has served NH Audubon in a variety of capacities for more than 30 years, beginning…

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Fletcher Smith – Satellite Tracking and Full Life-cycle Ecology of the Whimbrel

November 4, 2013

Fletcher Smith, research biologist at The Center for Conservation Biology, William and Mary College , Virginia, works with a diversity of bird species throughout the western hemisphere, following migrants from their breeding to winter grounds. His current research projects include work with Whimbrels, Red Knots, marsh sparrows and neotropical migrants. In addition, he conducts breeding…

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Rick Wright – Biodiversity: A Good Thing, Apparently

October 7, 2013

A Nebraskan by birth, Rick Wright attended University of Nebraska in the late 1970s. While in college he served as assistant to Paul A. Johnsgard; Rick was given the job of reorganizing the bird skin collection at the university museum. In 1983 Rick enrolled at Harvard Law School briefly, and then embarked on a graduate…

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Marja Bakermans – Breeding Bird Response to Forest Management: Developing Guidelines for Two Imperiled Species

June 3, 2013

Marja H. Bakermans B.S. Biology: Bucknell University M.S. Natural Resources: The Ohio State University Ph. D. Natural Resources: The Ohio State University Currently: Assitant Biology Professor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute Marja writes: I possess a strong commitment to student education, and a goal of mine is to stimulate students’ critical thinking and problem solving abilities. I…

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George L. Hunt – Marine Ornithology: Some Thoughts on the Development of a Young Discipline

May 6, 2013

George L. Hunt Education: 1965 Harvard College. AB, Biology 1965-1966 University of Pennsylvania. 1971 Harvard University. Ph.D., Biology Employment: 1970-1976 University of California, Irvine: Assistant Professor 1976-1982 University of California, Irvine: Associate Professor 1979-1983 University of California, Irvine: Chair, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 1982-2005 University of California, Irvine: Professor 2005- University of Washington,…

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Harry Vogel – The State of the Loon

April 1, 2013

Harry Vogel received his BES degree in environment and resource studies and biology from the University of Waterloo, ON, in 1990 and his MSc degree in zoology from University of Guelph, ON, in 1995. In his professional career he has been Project Biologist and Coordinator for Canadian Lakes Loon Survey for Bird Studies, Canada; Trustee,…

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George L. Armistead – pOrnithology: The Birds…and the Birds and the Bees

March 4, 2013

George Armistead, who has been birding for nearly thirty years, hails from Philadelphia, where he lives with his wife, Laura, in center city. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and completed both a B.A. and an M.A. in environmental studies. He worked for seven years in the ornithology department of the Academy of Natural Sciences…

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Cagan Sekercioglu – Conserving Birds Around the World: From Species to Landscapes and People.

February 4, 2013

Cagan Sekercioglu B.A. 1997, Anthropology, Harvard University B.A. 1997, Biology, Harvard University. Project: The effects of logging-based habitat modification on the vegetation structure and forest bird communities of the Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda Ph.D. 2003, Department of Biology – Ecology, Stanford University Center for Conservation Biology. Project: Causes and Consequences of Bird Extinctions Associate…

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Doug Hitchcox – Monhegan Island

December 3, 2012

Doug Hitchcox is a 2011 graduate of University of Maine in Orono. He is currently Maine Audubon store manager at the Scarborough Marsh Nature Center.

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Ann M. Haynes-Sutton, PhD – Streamertails, Orangequits and Redstarts: 325 Years of Ornithology in Jamaica

November 5, 2012

Ann Haynes-Sutton, conservation ecologist and ornithologist, is the senior author of A Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of Jamaica published by Princeton Press in 2009. She owns and manages Marshall’s Pen, a private nature reserve and one of the premier birding locations in Jamaica, and leads bird tours. Her other interests include working on…

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John Fitzpatrick – Reflections on American Ornithology, Past, Present, and Future

October 1, 2012

John Fitzpatrick became the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in August 1995. He received his BA from Harvard in 1974 and a PhD from Princeton in 1978. From 1988 to 1995, John was executive director and senior research biologist at the Archbold Biological Station. From 1978 to 1988 he was…

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Richard L. Soffer, MD – Collecting Ornithological Books: A Personal Odyssey

June 4, 2012

Richard Soffer, retired professor of Molecular Biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, collected a remarkable and extensive series of ornithological books that span the centuries from the late Renaissance to modern times, with particular attention to works that feature the various methods and techniques that have been used to reproduce…

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Edson Endrigo – Endemic, Endangered and Elusive Birds of Brazil

May 7, 2012

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Edson Endrigo started to watch birds at an early age on his grandfather’s farm. He has been a professional bird photographer since 1995, specializing in rare, threatened or little known species. Edson has successfully published nine photographic books of birds of various regions of Brazil. He started his career as…

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Denver Holt – Breeding Ecology of Snowy Owls

April 2, 2012

Denver Holt, a graduate of the University of Montana, is founder and president of the Owl Research Institute (ORI), a nonprofit organization located in Charlo, Montana. A dedicated field researcher in North and Central America, Holt believes that long-term field studies are the primary means to understanding trends in natural history. In 2000, he was…

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Alexander (“Sasha”) Keyel – Habitat Selection in Grassland Birds

March 5, 2012

Alexander “Sasha” Keyel protects birds and the places they live. With the possible exception of Homer Simpson, there are few people who can say that doughnuts played an important role in their lives. Sasha is one of these people. “Growing up, my father would take my siblings and me bird watching,” says Keyel, a Tufts biology…

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Richard Crossley – Past, Present and Future—A Story Told in a Yorkshire Brogue Through a Camera Lens that Loves Color and Art

February 6, 2012
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