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.
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.
Allan Strong - The Bobolink Project: Payments for Ecosystem Services to Conserve Grassland Birds
May 2, 2022
Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont
In response to continent-wide population declines in the suite of birds that nest in agricultural habitats, we initated a payment for ecosystem services program called The Bobolink Project. Beginning in Rhode Island and expanding to Vermont, the project employed a novel approach, where crowd-sourced pledges for ecosystem services were matched with landowner bids. Hayfield owners with nesting habitat for grassland birds were invited to participate in a uniform price auction to adopt “bird-friendly” haying practices in exchange for compensation. Simultaneously, private citizens were asked to engage in an innovative pledging process where funds would be used to compensate landowners. After three pilot seasons supported by a research grant, the project administration transitioned to Audubon Societies and expanded to include Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York. Currently the program enrolls 1,000 acres/year and supports over 250 pairs of Bobolinks on enrolled fields in the Northeast. The success of the project suggests that this approach may be appropriate in other contexts where targeted ecosystem services include flagship species and landowner-sellers can enter into contracts to deliver clearly-defined outcomes valued by donors.
Dr. Allan Strong is a Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. His research focuses on the factors that influence habitat quality for birds. Much of this work involves quantifying the factors that influence food availability; although, some of his recent research looks at the effects of anthropogenic habitat (e.g., ski resorts, urbanization, and agricultural habitats) modification on bird populations. His current research emphasis is on grassland bird populations in the Champlain Valley.
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)
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
Becky Harris, Ellen Jedrey – Post-breeding Staging Roseate Terns: Cape Cod and Nantucket are Critical Habitats
As Director of MassAudubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program, Becky Harris oversees the monitoring, management and protection of beach nesting birds at over 100 sites throughout southeastern Massachusetts. She also holds an adjunct faculty position at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in the Center for Conservation Medicine. Before coming to Mass Audubon in 2006, she founded…Read More
Manomet Senior Scientist Brian Harrington has been studying the distribution and coastal ecology of shorebirds since 1972, focusing on migration and southern South American wintering areas. Brian, working with hundreds of cooperators, has led research on shorebird use of coastal habitat at migration stopover sites, as well as identifying major migration sites of shorebirds throughout…Read More
Dr. Ian Newton is respected world-wide both as a biologist with a special interest and expertise in this subject and as a communicator. He is a seasoned and popular key note speaker at National and International meetings, and his talks are often the high point of conferences. He has been interested in birds since boyhood,…Read More
Dr. Carla Dove is a Research Scientist in the Department of Ornithology at the National Museum of Natural History. Her expertise is in the field of microscopic and molecular identification of feathers. She applies forensic methodologies to determine species of birds from fragmentary evidence using microscopy, whole feather comparisons with museum specimens and DNA barcoding.…Read More
Field problem presented: Glenn d’Entremont – Lack of Documentation, Quincy Christmas Count records Dr. Navjot S. Sodhi is currently a Professor of Conservation Ecology at the National University of Singapore. He received his PhD from the University of Saskatchewan. He has been studying the effects of rain forest loss and degradation on Southeast Asian fauna…Read More
Field problem presented: David Small – Birds and Powerline Management in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont Francois Vuilleumier, acclaimed ornithologist and editor-in-chief of the new book Birds of North America, is Curator Emeritus of the Department of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History. Author and professor of ornithology Francois Vuilleumier was a student of Ernst…Read More
Nick Locke – REGUA—Reserva Ecológica Guapiaçu: A successful conservation project in the Atlantic rainforest of SE Brazil
Field problem presented: Kim Smith – Breeding Ecology of Early Successional Birds in Western Connecticut Nicholas Locke is president of the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve (REGUA), located an hour and a half from the city of Rio de Janeiro. REGUA, a grassroots NGO, started in 1996 after a visit by a UK naturalist who saw the…Read More
Field problem presented: Soheil Zendeh – Take a Second Look (TASL) Nicholas Rodenhouse is Professor of Biological Sciences at Wellesley College where he teaches ecology, organismal biology, conservation biology, and environmental studies. A member of the Wellesley College faculty since 1988, Professor Rodenhouse received a A.B. degree from Hope College in 1977 and an M.A. degree…Read More
Field problem presented: Steve Mirick- Extreme Pelagic Birding Luis Segura has worked in ecotourism and conservation since 1982. He has volunteered in projects oriented to preserve natural ecosystems and wildlife species in his native country, Argentina. He is a member of the Argentine branch of Birdlife International, Asociación Ornitológica del Plata. In his home city, Puerto…Read More
Field problem presented: Vern Laux – Birdquest Stephanie Koch is working towards her PhD by doing research on shorebirds and these days she is soaring in rarified air because she is the only URI student to be awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. In fact Dr. Peter Paton, chair of the CELS…Read More
Field problem presented: Robert Kennedy – Nantucket Offshore Wintering Wildfowl: Possible Impacts from Offshore Sand Mining Dr. Pamela Rasmussen’s research focuses on the diversity, vocalizations, taxonomy, and conservation of the avifauna of southern Asia. She recently (2005) co-authored a two-volume book, Birds of South Asia: the Ripley Guide, published in April 2005. She has also worked…Read More
Field problem presented: Michael Schindlinger – Listening to the Amazon Dr. John Kricher is professor of biology at Wheaton College where he has served on the faculty for nearly forty years. He received his B.A. from Temple University and his PhD from Rutgers. In addition to Nuttall, he is a member of a number of professional…Read More
Field problem presented: Paul Roberts – Population studies of American Kestrel Rob Williams did his undergraduate work in zoology at the University of Wales in Cardiff. He obtained his doctorate at the University of East Anglia where he studied Long-eared Owls. In 1999 he moved to Ecuador where he has worked with a number of conservation…Read More
Field problem presented: Ralph Andrews – Is the Canada Goose Canadian? Dr. William E. (Ted) Davis received his B.A. from Amherst University, his M.A. from the University of Texas and his PhD in invertebrate biology from Boston University. He developed a deep interest in birds and has over the years authored over 150 papers and notes…Read More