Field Ornithology

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EEB 3898: Field Methods in Ornithology

Intensive Summer Session 1, June 8th - 26th, 2009 MTWThF

Instructor: Diego Sustaita

Office: Biol/Pharm 404

Phone: 860-486-0309

Office hours: variable & flexible (call, email, drop by)

17 June: Updates to syllabus; new readings posted

Course Objectives

• Acquire bird identification skills

• Learn basic field research techniques, study design, and data analysis

• Develop basic understanding of local bird biology & ecology

• Tentative* schedule:

Day Topic Day Topic Day Topic
M 08 Course introduction; Bird identification [Sibley introduction] M 15 Exam 1; Point count activity M 22 Capture/banding activity [[[File:Pdficon small.gif|link=]]Silkeye et al. 1999]; Exam 2
T 09 Survey of local birds; Primer of avian ecology [[[File:Pdficon small.gif|link=]]MacArthur 1958] T 16 Territory mapping lec [Manuwal & Carey 1991 pgs. 14-17/Pdficon small.gifOrtega & Cappen 1999]; Territory mapping activity (I) T 23 Data analysis lab I: Density estimation [[[File:Pdficon small.gif|link=]]Thomas et al. 2002]
W 10 Survey of local birds W 17 Radiotelemetry activity [[[File:Pdficon small.gif|link=]]Chapt. 7: Wild Birds and Avian Influenza: an introduction to applied field research and disease sampling techniques] W 24 Survey of coastal birds [[[File:Pdficon small.gif|link=]]Craig & Beal 1992]
Th 11 Census techniques: Study design & line transects lec [[[File:Pdficon small.gif|link=]]Manuwal & Carey 1991 pgs. 9-11; Pdficon small.gifAnderson et al. 1979]; Line transect activity Th 18 Behavioral obs. lec [[[File:Pdficon small.gif|link=]]Green et al. 1996]; Behavioral obs activity Th 25 Data analysis lab II: Habitat structure, diversity, & community analysis [Stiling, Chapt.16; Pdficon small.gifMacArthur & MacArthur 1961]
F 12 Point count/transect lec [Manuwal & Carey 1991 pgs. 11-14;Pdficon small.gifReynolds et al. 1980] F 19 Habitat measurement lec [[[File:Pdficon small.gif|link=]]Bibby et al. 1985]; Habitat meas activity; Territory mapping activity (II) F 26 Instructor evaluations; Final exam

Note: Schedule is subject to change pending weather conditions, or unforeseen birding and research opportunities.

Course Materials


• Required

o The Sibley Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America (from Co-op)

o Binoculars (available from us if you don’t have any)

o Field notepad/notebook

• Recommended

o Sibley’s birding basics (Knopf, New York, 2002)

o Birding by Ear: Eastern and Central North America – Peterson Field Guides

o Old shoes or hiking boots, & proper outdoor clothing (poison ivy, weather)

o Insect repellent (ticks, mosquitoes)

o Sunscreen


• Daily reading assignments

• Class exercise worksheets

• Directed project write-ups

• Weekly exams, covering:


o Bird ID by sight & sound

o Basic biology (e.g., from observations; field guide; “All About Birds”)

o Material from lectures & readings

o Field technique scenario questions


• Midterm exams (50 points)

• Daily worksheets/field notes (150 points)

• Directed project assignments (50 points)

• Final exam (50 points)

• Total (300 points)

Grading scale: A = 100-90%, B = 89-80%, C = 79-70%, D = 69-60%, F = 59-0%. Plus/minus system will be used for the final grade. Perfect attendance & participation are mandatory!

Additional References & Websites

• Bibby CJ, Burgess ND, Hill DA, Mustoe S, editors. 2000. Bird census techniques. San Diego, USA: Academic Press.

• Gill F. 2007. Ornithology. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company.

• Stiling P. 1999. Ecology: theories and application. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

• Clark, G. A. 1999. Birds of Storrs, Connecticut and vicinity. 3rd Ed. Mansfield, CT: Natchaug Ornithological Society & Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust.

• SORA (Searchable Ornithological Research Archive):

• Cornell Lab of Ornithology “All About Birds”:

• Natchaug Ornithological Society: (esp. “local hotspots”

• Connecticut Ornithological Association:

• CT Audubon Society:

• CT Department of Environmental Protection: