Upcoming Programs

Richard Prum – Mate Choice, Sexual Conflict, and Sexual Autonomy: Everything you ever wanted to know about duck sex, but were afraid to ask

March 4, 2019

Mate choice is well appreciated mechanism in the evolution of avian ornaments.  However, sexual coercion and sexual violence can also influence avian breeding systems, leading to sexual conflict. This talk will explore sexual conflict in waterfowl, bowerbirds, and lek evolution. The conclusion is that freedom of choice matters to birds. Sexual autonomy actively evolves in birds, and contributes substantially to the diversity of avian aesthetic ornaments and social systems.

Richard O. Prum is the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology at Yale University, and the Curator of Ornithology in the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Prum is an evolutionary ornithologist with broad interests in avian biology. A life-long birdwatcher, Prum has researched many topics in bird biology including avian phylogeny, behavioral evolution, feather development and evolution, structural coloration, sexual selection, and the dinosaur origin of birds. He has conducted fieldwork on bird on all continents, and has studied fossil theropods in China. In 2017, he published The Evolution of Beauty, which was named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by the New York Times, and was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction. He has been awarded MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Fulbright Fellowships.

Emily DuVal - Dancing Birds, Sexual Selection, and the Evolution of Cooperation in a Tropical Forest

April 8, 2019

Males of many species engage in fierce competition for mates.  That competition can take the form of intense battles with rivals or flashy displays that attract females, but in just a few species, males do something truly unusual:  instead of competing, they cooperate.  Male lance-tailed manakins form long-terms two-male partnerships and display together for females, but only dominant “alpha” males mate with the females a pair attracts. It has long been assumed that cues from the dynamic multi-male displays are a key part of mate choice, but we’ve found that displays are more likely to end with a copulation when males don’t have their display partner around.  Why do males cooperate, and what are females looking for, anyway?  Drawing on 20 years of empirical research into lance-tailed manakin cooperation and mate choice, she will explore the astounding behaviors that have resulted from intense sexual selection while questioning long-held assumptions about how sexual selection works.

Emily DuVal earned her B.A. in Biology and Sociology at Rice University, and first became involved in ornithological research as a freshman collecting data on great-tailed grackle mating systems (a project that she took part in for all four of her undergraduate years).  Following graduation, she travelled as a Thomas J. Watson fellow to study conflicts between conservation and cultural traditions in Guyana, Australia, and New Zealand, and she started studying lance-tailed manakins in her first year of her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was supervised by mammologist Eileen Lacey.  She did a postdoc with Bart Kempenaers at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and in 2008 she moved to a faculty position at Florida State University where she is now and associate professor.

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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Herb Raffaele – Saving Caribbean birds

April 2, 2007

Field problem presented: Ted Davis – Reporting bird behavior Dr. Herb Raffaele, Chief of the International Division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, received his degrees in wildlife conservation and ecology from the State University of New York in 1983. He has published often on wildlife conservation and is responsible for the creation of education…

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H. Doug Pratt – Hawaiian honeycreepers

March 5, 2007

Field problem presented: Jim Berry – Nesting birds H. Doug Pratt is currently research curator at North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. He received his PhD in biology at LSU in 1969. He began studying Hawaiian honeycreepers 30 years ago and has expanded his research into endemic birds of Pacific Ocean islands.

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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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Dr. John Kricher: The influence of the Galapagos Islands on evolutionary thinking

December 2, 2002

The influence of the Galapagos Islands on evolutionary thinking. https://vimeo.com/198576752

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