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.
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.
Daniel Field - The dinosaur resurrection: how the demise of the dinosaurs paved the way for the origin of modern birds
February 7, 2022
Strickland Curator of Ornithology at the University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology
Modern birds are the most diverse group of terrestrial vertebrate animals, comprising nearly 11,000 living species. They inhabit virtually every corner of the modern world, and exhibit a mind-boggling variety of forms and lifestyles. But how has this awe-inspiring diversity arisen? This talk will explore recent research into how, where, and when the spectacular diversity of living birds, their specialised features, and their extraordinary phenotypic variety have evolved. This exploration will reveal how new fossils, advanced visualisation techniques, and a wealth of new phenotypic and genomic data are providing important new insights into these longstanding evolutionary questions. Advances in all of these areas point to a key event in Earth history as having kick-started the radiation of modern birds: the extinction of the giant dinosaurs. Our research illustrates that the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event nearly wiped out birds alongside their dinosaurian brethren, but the interval immediately following this mass extinction event appears to have witnessed the extremely rapid diversification of modern birds—giving rise to the early ancestors of the major groups of birds alive today. We will seek to unravel the effects of this mass extinction on avian ecology, anatomy, and diversity, and will explore how the recent discovery of the world’s oldest modern bird fossil informs our understanding of the earliest stages of modern bird evolutionary history.
Daniel Field’s research bridges the worlds of avian palaeontology as a lecturer in the Earth Sciences Department at Cambridge, and evolutionary biology as the Strickland Curator of Ornithology at the University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology. He is fascinated by Earth’s living bird diversity, and seeks to understand how modern birds evolved using the fossil record. Daniel’s academic interests were sparked as a bird- and fossil-obsessed child growing up in Calgary, Canada, and since arriving at Cambridge in 2018 his lab has investigated bird evolution on a grand scale—covering over 150 million years of Earth’s history. Daniel also holds a fellowship at Christ’s College, where Charles Darwin studied as an undergraduate.
Autumn-Lynn Harrison - Uniting across hemispheres to discover unknown migratory pathways of birds: Advancing scientific knowledge and translating to conservation
March 7, 2022
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center research ecologist and program manager of the Migratory Connectivity Project
Join Dr. Autumn-Lynn Harrison, a marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, as she shares results from two hemispheric-scale tracking projects, and how the data have been translated into global policy initiatives. Autumn-Lynn was a researcher with the Tagging of Pacific Predators project, and she will discuss her 2018 paper, The Political Biogeography of Migratory Marine Predators, and her experiences going from ecological questions, to policy-relevant answers for seabirds. Since 2014 she has been the Program Manager of the Migratory Connectivity Project (MCP), leading field research in the North American Arctic region to discover the migratory pathways and drivers of at-sea ecology of understudied seabirds and shorebirds. Over the past 6 years, MCP has collected 7 million daily bird locations across 23 species of birds and 600 individuals. She will share recent results from these studies including new insights about three species of jaegers, Glaucous Gulls, Arctic Terns, and Black-bellied Plovers. Finally, she will discuss how all of these data are contributing to multiple collaborative conservation initiatives.
Dr. Autumn-Lynn Harrison joined the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center as a research ecologist in 2014 and is the program manager of the Migratory Connectivity Project. Her work focuses on studying the migrations and habitat use of marine and coastal birds and applying scientific research to conservation and policy questions. She has worked across many systems including leading field projects to track the migrations of seabirds and shorebirds breeding in the Alaskan Arctic and seals in South Africa and California. Her work has contributed to United Nations efforts to identify ecologically significant areas for migratory marine animals in international waters of the North Pacific Ocean and she recently founded the Shorebird Science and Conservation Collective to ensure the recent boom in shorebird tracking data is used quickly for conservation. Before joining the Smithsonian, Harrison worked for the Society for Conservation Biology for 11 years. Harrison earned B.S. Degrees in Environmental Science and Fisheries and Wildlife Science from Virginia Tech, a Graduate Diploma of Science in Tropical Marine Ecology and Fisheries Science from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Tim Birkhead - How we know what we know about birds
April 4, 2022
Fellow of the Royal Society and emeritus professor of behaviour and evolution at the University of Sheffield
We take so much for granted when it comes to birds, but where did our knowledge come from? Although people had been intrigued by birds since the palaeolithic, it was only with the scientific revolution the mid 1600s that a more certain ornithological knowledge began to emerge. This was thanks to the labours of two English pioneers, John Ray and Francis Willughby. Both scholars, but they could hardly have been more different: Ray careful and precise, Willughby the lateral thinker asking questions no one had preciously broached. The result of this extraordinary and exciting collaboration was an encyclopedia of ornithology that became the gold standard for over two centuries and provided the foundation on which all subsequent knowledge of birds rests. Their journey is our journey. We will travel across Europe as our two heroes, visiting other savants, libraries, museums and seabird colonies — including one, Skomer Island, Wales, where I have studied seabirds for the last fifty years.
Tim Birkhead is a Fellow of the Royal Society and emeritus professor of behaviour and evolution at the University of Sheffield. His research on promiscuity and sperm competition in birds helped to re-shape our understanding of bird mating systems. More recently, he and his colleagues also resolved the longstanding mystery of the guillemot’s pear-shaped egg: see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-189LIYa0Y&t=7s Tim has been president of the International Society for Behavioural Ecology and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. He has studied guillemots — mainly on Skomer — since 1972 and has funded the annual monitoring of guillemot breeding success and survival on Skomer through crowd funding since 2014. As well as a passion for research, Tim enjoyed undergraduate teaching for which he won several national awards. He is also committed to the public understanding of science and has written several popular science books, including the award-winning Wisdom of Birds (2008), Bird Sense (2012) and The Most Perfect Thing: the Inside (and Outside) of a Birds’ Egg (2016), the last two of which were short-listed for the Royal Society’s Insight Investment Book Award. He is married and has three children and a dog, and in his spare time enjoys walking, birdwatching, playing the guitar, woodcarving, and painting. He is currently writing Birds and Us — our relationship with birds from the palaeolithic to the present.
Martin Wikelski - ICARUS – A new global IoT system for tracking movements of small migratory birds
May 2, 2022
Director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Radolfzell, Germany, Professor in Biology at the University of Konstanz, and member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
The collective wisdom of the Earth´s animals provides an immense bio-treasure of unprecedented information for humankind. Learning from animals in the ´Internet of Animals´ can help us predict natural catastrophes, forecast global zoonotic disease spreads or safeguard food resources while monitoring in situ every corner of the planet. The evolved senses of animals as well as technical sensors on animal-borne tracking tags enables local earth observations at highest spatial and temporal resolution. To protect and understand the ecosystem services provided by animals, we need to monitor individual animals seamlessly on a global scale. At the same time, these unprecedented life-history data of individual wild animals provide deep, novel insight into fundamental biological processes.
The ICARUS initiative, an international bottom-up, science-driven technology development of small, cheap and autonomous IoT (Internet of Things) sensing devices for animal movement and behavior is aiming towards this: wearables for wildlife. The resulting big data available in the open-source data base Movebank help understand, monitor, predict and protect life on our planet.
Martin Wikelski is the Director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior (formerly Ornithology) in Radolfzell (Germany), Professor in Biology at the University of Konstanz and member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Previously, he held positions at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Princeton University. His specialization is the study of global animal movement.
Lauryn Benedict - Divas in the treetops: When and why do female birds sing?
June 6, 2022
Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado
Female bird song is more common and widespread than is generally appreciated. In this presentation Dr. Lauryn Benedict will give an overview of female bird song prevalence and variety. She will discuss what we can learn by studying the songs of female birds, and invite citizen scientists to help advance the field.
Lauryn Benedict is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado. She studies the vocalizations and behavior of wild birds, and she teaches courses on ornithology and animal diversity. Lauryn holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley. You can often find her observing and audio-recording wrens on the public lands of Colorado.
(NOC members, login to view and listen to presentations)
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…Read More
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…Read More
As head of the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine’s Wildlife Clinic, environmental crusader Mark Pokras teaches his students to view veterinary medicine through a conservation lens – and to communicate the message that human, animal and environmental health are interlinked.Read More
Mark Faherty has been the Science Coordinator at Massachusetts Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary since August of 2007. While his current projects involve everything from oysters and horseshoe crabs to bats and butterflies, he has studied primarily bird ecology for the last 16 years, working on research projects in Texas, Florida, California, Arizona, Mexico, the…Read More
Andrés Bosso – Aves Argentinas: 95 Years of Protecting Birds and their Habitats in the Other Side of the Americas
Andrés Bosso has been working on behalf of bird conservation for more than 25 years. In 1996 he began working for Aves Argentinas, a partner of BirdLife International. From 1996 to 2010 he was the CEO of this prestigious NGO, which was founded in 1916. Bosso is a member of the Global Council of BirdLife…Read More
Lisa Sorenson, Research Assistant and Professor of Biology at Boston University and President, West Indian Whistling-Duck Working Group of the Society of Caribbean Ornithology, received her PhD in conservation biology, behavioral ecology, and hormonal mechanisms of behavior in birds at University of Minnesota in 1990. Sorenson’s recent research addresses the potential effects of global warming…Read More
Bret Whitney is one of the founders of Field Guides, a Research Associate of the Museum of Natural Science at Louisiana State University, an Associate of the Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell, 2004 recipient of the ABA’s Ludlow Griscom award, and an eternal optimist about everything except Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. Bret guides many Brazil tours and,…Read More
Ted Floyd is the Editor of Birding, the flagship publication of the American Birding Association. He has published widely on birds and ecological topics. Ted has written more than 125 articles, with contributions to scholarly journals such as Ecology, Oecologia, Animal Behaviour, Journal of Animal Ecology, and Trends in Ecology and Evolution and contributions to…Read More
Born in 1959, Scott Weidensaul has lived almost all of his life among the long ridges and endless valleys of eastern Pennsylvania, in the heart of the central Appalachians, a landscape that has defined much of his work. His writing career began in 1978 with a weekly natural history column in the local newspaper, the…Read More
Kurk Dorsey, Associate Professor of History, University of New Hampshire, received his BA at Cornell University, his MA at Northwestern University and his PhD at Yale. His current fields of research are US foreign policy, environmental history and history of Canada. Professor Dorsey approaches the history of the environmental movement’s signal law, the migratory bird…Read More
Henry Lumsden was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and grew up in Aberdeenshire. He joined the RAF in 1941 were he was trained as a pilot and served as a flying instructor. After the war he joined the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests (later renamed Ministry of Natural Resources) as a biologist. He has intensely…Read More
Drew Wheelan, who grew up in southern Rhode Island, graduated from Evergreen State College in 1996 and since then has worked with birds throughout the United States, Amazonian Peru and Ecuador, as well as Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico. A fight with a life threatening illness lent to him a fresh perspective on life and…Read More
Alvaro (Al) Jaramillo was born in Chile but began birding in Toronto, Canada, where he lived as a youth. He studied ecology and evolution in Toronto and Vancouver, earning a masters degree studying co-evolution in Argentine cowbirds. Research forays and backpacking trips introduced Alvaro to the riches of the Neotropics, where he has traveled extensively.…Read More
Joan Walsh is the Coordinator of the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas 2, and has been working with Mass Audubon since 2006. Her interests are in the interaction between landscapes and bird communities, and in bird breeding behavior. During the 1990s Joan was the Director of Research at New Jersey Audubon Society where she coordinated their…Read More
Professor of Wildlife Biology and Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, Dr. DavidBird’s main research interest is focused on raptorial birds, which encompasses virtually all aspects of their biology. He has at his disposal a captive colony of 200 or more American Kestrels. He collaborates with other scientists…Read More
Chris Wood is Project Leader for eBird at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Chris began birding at age five and still gets into the field enough to make the rest of the Cornell staff jealous. His primary interests include bird distribution, identification, vocalizations and conservation throughout the Americas. In addition to his work at the…Read More
Since September 2008, Ernesto Inzunza, a postdoctoral fellow at the Bilology Department, Dartmouth College, has been an instructor for a course in tropical biology and will teach Methods in Ecology next summer. His research project is titled The fingerprint of climate change in hawk migration phenology. Ernesto continues to lead the Raptor Population Index Project…Read More
John Kricher (moderator), Wayne Petersen, Bob Stymeist, Jim Berry, Peter Alden, Shawn Carey, David Larson – Birding: Past, Present, and Future
John Kricher is A. Howard Meneely Professor of Biology at Wheaton College, a Fellow in the American Ornithologists Union, and member of the Science Advisory Committee of the Council of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. He has previously served as president of the Association of Field Ornithologists, the Wilson Ornithological Society and the Nuttall Ornithological Club,…Read More