Field Ornithology

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EEB 3898: Field Methods in Ornithology

Intensive Summer Session, May 11th - 29th, 2015

Meets: M-F, 7:30 am to 11:30 am, TLS 371

Instructor: Kevin Burgio

Office: Biol/Pharm 402


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

Website: UConn Monk Parakeet Research

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be proficient in taking field notes, basic bird anatomy, song structure, and identification skills needed to accurately identify bird species. Students will have instruction and experience in the following: bird survey design, the most commonly used bird census methods, and field-based behavioral observation. Lastly, students will be introduced to current statistical approaches used to analyze data collected in the field.

Course Materials



1. The Sibley Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America

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

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

4. Field notepad/notebook (Pdficon small.gif Basic guidelines)

5. Closed-toe shoes (no sandals) or hiking boots, & proper outdoor clothing (you may encounter poison ivy, ticks and biting insects, and/or bad weather)


1. Sibley’s Birding Basics

2. Peterson's Birding by Ear: Eastern and Central North America

3. Insect repellent (ticks, mosquitoes)

4. Sunscreen

Tentative schedule - Note that because so much of what we do depends on the weather, the schedule is very subject to change!

Day Topic Day Topic Day Topic
M 11 Course introduction and timeline; Bird identification (Optics, Guides and Notes) M 18 Survey of local birds; notebooks (First Submission) M 25 Independent project data collection (Final); data analysis
T 12 Topography and Field Marks Feet, Beaks and Body Form; Field exercises; Start projects T 19 Individual project presentations T 26 Survey of coastal birds
W 13 Field research techniques, hypotheses testing, study design, and data analysis W 20 MIDTERM EXAM W 27 Survey of local birds. Field notebooks (Final Submission)
Th 14 Survey of local birds, Review, Project guidelines discussion and selection Th 21 Individual project data collection I (Methods adjustment) Th 28 Review session in preparation for the final;
F 15 Banding demo(?) F 22 Individual project data collection II (Assisted) F 29 FINAL EXAM; Instructor evaluations


Exams: May 20st (MIDTERM) [50 points]; May 29th (FINAL) [50 points]

Activities and Quizzes: 5 (10 points each) [50 points]

Final Project Presentation: May 28th [70 points];

Field Notebook Submissions: May 19th (First) [25 points]; May 28th (Final) [25 points]

Field trips and birding exercises (5 points each): Dates will be weather dependent [30 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.

Additional References & Websites

• Local Birds ID tool:

• MANUAL OF ORNITHOLOGY (Yale Univ.), by N.S. Proctor and P.J. Lynch:

• 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:

Website design by Diego Sustaita

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