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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Tim Laman – Birds of paradise

February 5, 2007

Field problem presented: Wayne Petersen – We can’t be too careful Tim Laman has been working in New Guinea, collaborating with Edwin Scolz. Tim received his PhD in evolutionary biology at Harvard in 1994. He began working in Borneo and became a regular contributor to National Geographic. The work presented was a preview of an article…

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Dick Veit – Vagrancy

December 4, 2006

Field problem presented: Ian Nisbet – Roseate Terns Dick Veit received his undergraduate degree in biology at UMass Boston and his graduate degree at University of California at Irvine. He is currently professor of biology at College of Staten Island. He has published 44 publications and 1 book (Birds of Massachusetts with Wayne Petersen), mentors 14…

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Simon Perkins – Cape Wind

November 6, 2006

Simon Perkins is field ornithologist with Massachusetts Audubon Society. He began researching Cape Wind and its proposed wind turbines in Nantucket Sound approximately 4 years ago and presented the up-to-the minute results of his research to the Club.

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Reuven Yosef – Eilat

October 2, 2006

Reuven Yosef has worked at the Raptor Research Center in Eilat, Israel, since 1984 and has been the director since 1993. He received his PhD at Ohio State University and conducted his post-doc work on shrikes at Florida’s Archibald Research Center. He has been involved in developing educational programs on raptors, primarily in the Old…

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