Ornithology Laboratory

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Western Sandpiper; drawing copyright Bridget Keimel

Basic Course Information

EEB 4261

Spring 2011

Meets: Fridays, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m, TLS 371

Instructor: Dr. Margaret Rubega
Office: PharmBio 500 Phone: 486-4502
Office Hours: By appointment

Your emails to me MUST contain the phrase "EEB 4261” in the subject line; email received without that phrase, and especially those with a blank subject line, will be DELETED, unread.

Teaching Assistant: Alejandro Rico Guevara
Office: PharmBio 404 Phone: 486-0309
Office Hours: Variable and flexible; by appointment

Required Texts

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

BIRDS OF STORRS (Natchaug Ornithological Society) by G.A. Clark, Jr.

SIBLEY GUIDE TO BIRDS (Knopf), by D.A. Sibley.(Eastern or North American Edition)

Class Schedule

(very subject to change; check back before every lab)

Date Required Reading Subject Meeting notes, and other resources
Jan 28 P & L p. 274-281,286-287; Sibley p. 9-14; Clark p. 1-19 Tools of the trade: Optics, Field Guides, Field Notes and Journals Come dressed and ready to bird; meet in TLS 371
Feb 4 P & L p. 22-37, 47-65, 263-265; Sibley p. 15-21; Clark p. 21-40/ P & L p. 66-77 North American bird Orders; Topography and Field Marks; Feet, Beaks and Body Form Bring P & L to class; meet in TLS 371
Feb 11 Handouts Opportunities in Ornithology --- You Mean I Can Get Paid For This Stuff? (Bring your resume, if you have one)
Feb 18 P & L p. 81-105 Feathers & Aerodynamics
Feb 25 P & L Chap. 5 Anatomy - Skeletons Check for weather, and come dressed to bird (think about MUD)
March 4 MIDTERM EXAM; birding after
March 18 P & L Chapters 6 & 7, 205-209, 219-226 Anatomy: musculature and internal organs NO BIRDING - we will need the whole class period for dissections. Bring your Proctor and Lynch to class!
March 25 Handouts Field Techniques: Survey methods
April 1 Proctor & Lynch p. 266-273 Weather and Bird Movements: Go Outside to EXPERIENCE both! Monitor bird movements with Dave LaPuma! Clemson University Radar Ornithology Lab Birds and Weather worksheet
April 8 Bird, Bird, Bird – outside all four hours
April 15 Bird, Bird, Bird – outside all four hours
April 22 Handouts Field Techniques: Behavioral observations
April 29 Bird, Bird, Bird – outside all four hours
May 4 8:00 – 10:00 am FINAL EXAM in TLS 371


Grading in this course is done on a straight percentage-of-points basis, i.e., to obtain an A, you need to earn 90% or more of the available points. The grades will not be "curved", and there will be no opportunities for "make-up" or "extra-credit" points. Attendance on the field trips is required. If you miss a field trip, you lose 5 points. If you miss a test, you will receive a score of zero. If you have a legitimate reason (for example, a death in your family) to miss a field trip or test, you may be excused (at the discretion of the instructors) IF AND ONLY IF you provide written documentation (for example, an obituary documenting a death in your family) within one week of missing the class or test. In cases where the instructors determine you have a legitimate excuse, there still will be no make-ups administered: you will be graded only on the basis of the points contained in the field trips and tests you did complete. NOTE that this method reduces the number of points you can afford to lose and still do well in the course.

SICK? First, do your level best to let us know before the field trip/class exercise/test. Second, if you are sick, believe us when we say that we don't want to see you in lab --- please be responsible, and don't spread germs by coming to class with a fever, or hacking and coughing. For illnesses, we pro-rate your grade on the basis of the point-bearing exercises you didn't miss. If you are sick for the final YOU MUST INFORM THE OFFICE OF STUDENT SERVICES in order to be allowed to take a make-up after final exam week is over. The final exam is the only point-bearing exercise for which a make-up is possible.

These policies have been developed over years of teaching this and other courses, and are designed to ensure fair treatment of everyone by eliminating discrepancies in testing and evaluation, and by eliminating differences in the amount of field and study time available to students. I am very willing to discuss my reasoning for these policies, but if you try to talk me into making an exception to them for you, you will fail, and probably make me grumpy to boot.

Point Structure for Grading


Test 1: 50 points, March 6

Final: 50 points, May 4

Worksheets/Quizzes 100 (10 at 10 points each)

Independent Field Observations: 35 points

SEE: Ebird Set-up Document and Point Count Protocol and Point Count Datasheet and Point Count Example.

Independent Field Observation Locations: Map of Hillside Environmental Education Project

Field Trips: 45 points (Field trips are required: you lose 5 points for every missed trip. Note that field trips are VERY subject to change, depending on birds, weather, circumstances, and whim. Don't assume you know what you are going to miss!)

Collections Work: 20 points (4 hours at 5 points per hour).

You are also expected to keep a Field Notebook:. At least 2 of the "Quizzes" will consist of unscheduled collections and grading of your field notebook.

Academic Rules/Conduct

All students should be aware of the guidelines on academic integrity contained in the Student Conduct Code. The Conduct Code is available at http://www.dosa.uconn.edu/student_conduct.html.


If you have questions, by all means collar me or email me and ask. I will post both the questions (questioners will be anonymous) and answers here.

Useful and Amusing Links

Bird songs online!

Feather Identification Resource Online! The Feather Atlas of North American Birds provided high-resolution scans of flight feathers of the major groups of birds; useful for comparison with found feathers whose origin you aren't sure of.

Jobs in Ornithology, the job board for the Ornithological Societies of North America. THE central clearing house for field research internships and jobs.

David Sibley's Blog, wherein the field guide guy riffs mostly on the finer and philosophical points of bird identification, and reports his experiments in window treatments to prevent bird strikes.

North Coast (Oregon) Diaries Comments on photo documentation versus detailed notes. See also the March 2, 2008 post on Ugly Gulls (browse Main calendar).

ECOLOG-L listserve postings Job postings, other miscellaneous information and discussions about field ecology.

CT Beardsley Zoo Summer Internships

Collections Work Hours Sign Up

Vertebrate Collections Manager: Sue Hochgraf susan.hochgraf@uconn.edu 86-486-8945

To sign-up, let Dr. Rubega or Alejandro know which date/hours you would like to work; refer here to see hours already taken. No more than 2 students in an hour block simultaneously, unless Sue Hochgraf approves it.

Date 9 am 10 am 11 am 12 pm

(can only be worked consecutively after an 11 am block)

1 pm 2 pm 3 pm
Feb 3 Sarah C
Feb 10 Andrew O Andrew O Sarah C Sam Robinson
Feb 17 Melanie K Lauren L Sarah C - Sara F Sam Robinson
Feb 24 Amanda C Andrew O Lauren L - Andrew O Lindsey S Sara F - Lindsey S Sam Robinson
Mar 3 Lauren L Lindsey S Lindsey S
Mar 10 Spring Break No Work
Mar 17 Amanda C Sarah C Sam Robinson
Mar 24 Purbita Saha Purbita Saha - Jason Lech Melanie K - Jason Lech Lindsey S Lindsey S - Sarah F
Mar 31 Purbita Saha Purbita Saha - Jason Lech Jason Lech Amanda Sarah F - Rob M Rob M.
April 7 Rob M. Rob M. Amanda
April 14 Ethan T Ethan T Ethan T Ethan T
April 21
April 28 Sue away No Work Please Plan Ahead!