Ornithology Lecture

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Carmine Bee tree2-F.Gallo.jpg

Carmine Bee eaters; Photo copyright Frank Gallo

Basic Course Information

Spring 2013

Meets: Monday & Wednesdays, 11:00 - 11:50, BPB 130

Instructor: Dr. Margaret Rubega Office: PharmBio 500

Office Phone: 486-4502 Office Hours: Weds, 10-11 am, and by appointment

Email: margaret.rubega@uconn.edu

Twitter name: profrubega

TA: Manette Sandor Office: PharmBio 219

Office Phone:' 486-7955 Office Hours: Mon 1:30 - 2:30 pm; Weds 12 -1 pm, and by appointment

Email: manette.sandor@uconn.edu

Twitter name: Oikomemoranda

Your emails to me MUST contain the phrase "EEB 4260” in the subject line; email received without that phrase, and especially those with a blank subject line, will be DELETED without being read.


ORNITHOLOGY, 3rd Edition (Freeman) by Frank B. Gill

See also online materials at: http://www.whfreeman.com/gill3e

Optional supplemental 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 BIRD LIFE AND BEHAVIOR (Knopf), ed. by C. Elphick, J.B. Dunning and D.A. Sibley.

Class Schedule

Lecture # Date Subject (click for lecture notes) Required Reading in Gill; Required assignments Optional reading [in brackets]from Proctor & Lynch (unless otherwise stated) , and other resources
Jan 23 Course Introduction READ COURSE GUIDELINES (below); sign and turn in form. ALSO: Pgs. xxi- xxvi and Chapter 1 in Gill [1–6]

Evidence that multitasking makes you less capable; see also this article for a more thorough description of the problem.

1 Jan 28 What are birds and why would we study them? Pgs. xxi- xxvi and Chapter 1 in Gill; Course Guidelines Form Due. [1–6]
2 Jan 30 - Feb 4 Birds of the World. Chapter 1 & online at: www.whfreeman.com/gill3e ; Fill out, bring to class and hand in Twitter Handle Sheet
3 Feb 6 - 13 Avian evolution Chapter 2 [13 – 21]
4 Feb 18 Feathers Chapter 4 [81–115] Also: Dinosaur feather colors revealed!
5 Feb 20 Flight Chapter 5 [117,136–139, 148–151, 156–163] Article and videos of wing-assisted incline-running!
6 Feb 25 Physiology: Endothermy and Thermoregulation Chapter 6 (pgs. 150-164)
7 Feb 27 Feeding, feeding structures and feeding behavior Chapter 1 (pgs. 13-15) [122–130, 152-154], Tool making in New Caledonian Crows!
8 Mar 4 Physiology: Digestion and Excretion; Water Balance Chapter 6 (pp. 164-179) [175-187, 219-239]
9 Mar 6 Physiology: Respiration and Circulation Chapter 6 (141-150) [189-217]
10 Mar 11 Sensory Biology and Intelligence Chapter 7 [241-262] See Evidence that birds are smarter than you!
Mar 13 Mid-term exam Lectures through Communication: Visual AND Vocal; all associated readings Click here to view a Sample Test
11 &12 Mar 25 Communication: Visual AND Vocal Pgs. 344-359 and Chapter 8 AND watch Communication in Birds Video Manakins show off -- Michael Jackson rolls over!
13 Mar 27 Annual Cycles Chapter 9
14 April 1 Migration Chapter 10 (pgs. 273-295)
15 April 3 Navigation Chapter 10 (pgs. 295-306)
16 April 8 Social Behavior Chapter 11
17 Apr 10 Reproduction: Mating Behavior Pg. 359 through Chapter 13
18 Apr 15 ttp:// Reproduction: Physiology Chapter 14 [219-239]
19 Apr 17 Reproduction: Nests and Nesting Chapter 15
20 Apr 22 Reproduction: Growth and Development of Young Chapter 16 (pgs. 467-482)
21 Apr 24 Reproduction: Parental Care Chapter 16 (pgs. 482-502)
22 April 29 Avian Conservation Chapter 21, pgs. 558 - 569
23 May 1 Climate Change & Birds Pgs. 269 - 271 US Forest Service Climate Change Bird (& Tree) Atlas showing how bird distributions will change with changes in climate.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's web page.The Arbor Day Foundation's maps showing changes in hardiness zones since 1990.NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory's sea ice projections.

tentative May 8 FINAL EXAM in our regular classroom ALL MATERIAL TO DATE 10:30-12:30 am

Course Guidelines and Grading Policies

Use of electronics in the classroom? In a word, NO. Your phone should be OFF (not set to vibrate), your music should be off, your earphones should be in your backpack, and your laptop should be used ONLY for taking notes. All other uses (surfing the web, watching videos, email, IM, texting, whatever) are distracting, disruptive of the work we are doing in the classroom, and disrespectful of your classmates and the instructor. I will call you out publicly for the first offense; at the second offense you will be banned from using even a laptop in class; on the third offense I will ask you to leave. If you lack the self-restraint to stay on task in class, then take notes on paper. Recording lectures with any device is prohibited unless you ask for and receive permission from me in writing.

Entering or Leaving the classroom during a lecture is distracting and disruptive; do not do it unless absolutely necessary. If you know you will be late, or will have to leave early, come and go by the BACK door of the lecture hall, and sit in the nearest available seat to the door, whether you know the person sitting in the next seat or not. I will assume that, as adults, we are all capable of anticipating, and managing, the need to use the bathroom without leaving the classroom during a lecture. Assume that if you must leave the lecture hall, you may not come back. If you have a disability that would keep you from meeting these expectations, or expect an emergency communication during class, speak to me about it BEFORE lecture begins.

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 on tests, minute papers, quizzes and other assignments and activities (e.g., Twitter). The grades will not be "curved", and there will be no opportunities for "make-up" or "extra-credit" points. Opportunities to miss/drop your lowest grades are built into the recurring assignments (see below), but these are to account for, e.g., sick days, so do not skip assignments frivolously. If you have a legitimate reason (e.g., a death in the family) to miss the midterm, you may be excused (at the discretion of the instructor) IF AND ONLY IF you provide written documentation (for example,an obituary documenting a death in your family). In cases where you have a legitimate excuse, there still will be no make-ups administered: your grade will be pro-rated on the basis of the points contained in the tests and assignments you did complete. NOTE that this method reduces the number of points you can afford to lose and still do well in the course. If you have a legitimate excuse to miss the final exam YOU MUST INFORM THE OFFICE OF STUDENT SERVICES & ADVOCACY 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.

Attendance is not taken, and is not required; however, if you miss class you may miss in-class minute papers, quizzes or assignments (see below). SICK? Believe me when I say that we don't want to see you in class! Please be responsible, and don't spread germs by coming to class with a fever, or hacking and coughing. As noted above, there are no opportunities for making-up missed in-class activities; as noted below, you can miss up to two and still achieve full credit. However, bear in mind that you may also miss information I give, discussions that arise over questions asked, examples given on the spur of the moment. You are responsible, on quizzes and tests, for what is said in class, as well as the materials in the reading. If you miss class, you are responsible for using the lecture materials provided above, and for getting any additional notes from lecture from a classmate: I will not re-lecture to you, one-on-one, at a later appointment. Arrive early to the next lecture, or stay a little late, and find out whether you missed an in-class minute paper, quiz or activity; do not ask me to meet with you outside of class to "tell you what you missed".

These policies have been developed over years of teaching this and other courses, and are designed to ensure fair treatment of everyone by maximizing everyone's opportunity to learn, eliminating discrepancies in testing and evaluation, and by eliminating differences in the amount of 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.

Tests/ In-class Assessments & Assignments


Exams: 200 points

Midterm exam: 100 points, March 13 (Covers material from Lectures 1 - 12)

Final exam: 100 points, May 8 (Covers material from Lectures 14-25)

Click here to view a Sample Test

In-class Assessments & Assignments: 50 points (5 points each; one per week [excepting the week of the midterm]; we will drop your lowest two scores; if you miss, your score = 0)

These activities are designed to provide us with an assessment of your background preparation for class, to assess whether you understood what we just tried to teach you, and to enhance your understanding of the material. They will take multiple forms: MINUTE PAPERS: are short (it takes a minute!), UNGRADED (if you write something relevant, you're good -- there are no "right" answers) responses to questions we will pose in class. QUIZZES are GRADED, provide practice for the exams, assess your knowledge and understanding, and provide incentive to stay on top of the material. ASSIGNMENTS are GRADED and require you to do some background work BEFORE COMING TO CLASS; you are responsible for checking the class web page every week --- we recommend checking every Friday to see what's in store for the following week. Snow days and other unforseen circumstances can change our plans; a class cancellation should prompt you to check the web page.

Other Required Class Activities

Biological Collections tour 5 points

Every student is expected to visit the EEB Biological Collections for a tour that will introduce you to the resources and opportunities in the collection. We will offer 4 different opportunities, on different days and times. You will need to sign in at the collection; at the end of the semester, everyone who has signed in, will have 5 points added to their grade. Tours will take about 45 minutes, they meet at the south end of the Biology/Physics building lobby on the hour. You are responsible for finding a day and time to attend from the options listed below; if your class schedule prohibits you from attending any of these, you are responsible for letting me know that you will need an alternate opportunity BEFORE THE LAST WEEK OF CLASS. If you have already toured the collections (e.g., in a previous class with me or another instructor), provide me with documentation to that effect, and I will just add the 5 points to your grade without you needing to tour the collections again.

Available tour days/times:

Monday 18 Feb 9 am

Wednesday 6 Mar 12 pm

  1. Amandeep Samra
  2. Krista Wolffer
  3. Meghan Moore
  4. James Stewart
  5. Hadlai Neff
  6. Alexandra Addabbo
  7. Lisa Balestrino
  8. Meghan Moore
  9. Stephanie Henry
  10. Muhammed Abubakar
  11. Mary Ward
  12. Keith Syrett
  13. Chelsey Gribbin
  14. Marissa Mills
  15. Taylor Barry

Thursday 28 Mar 3 pm

  1. Jaron Kolek
  2. Kevin Canavan
  3. Laura Rice
  4. Michael Cenkus

If you are not signed up for a collections tour date, email Manette. Do not show up on Wednesday March 6th if you are not signed up for that collections tour! We cannot have more than 15 people on a collections tour at once!

Twitter 30 points

Twitter is a social networking resource that allows users to communicate in short, frequent posts. Posts ("tweets") are limited to 140 characters. I expect you to go to Twitter, sign up (a matter of giving an email address and picking a password and username), and, over the course of the semester, post observations of birds outside of class. Your posts should consist of any observation of birds you make that somehow relates to the content of the course. Each post should say: where you are; what you are seeing in the birdlife around you; and make the connection to the course content. For example: "Two sparrows are beating each other up outside the student union. Territoriality or dominance fight?" You are expected to post at least once per week. Posts are worth a maximum of three points each, you can earn up to 6 points from posts per week, and you can earn a total of 30 points in the course from Tweets. We must know your username in order to give you credit for Twitter posts: once your account is in place, then use "Find People" on Twitter to locate us (type in "Margaret Rubega" or "ProfRubega" and "Manette Sandor" or "Oikomemoranda") and then click on "Follow" to follow us. We will receive autumated messages informing us that you are following us, and will have a record of your user name. MAKE SURE THAT YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS ALLOW ANYONE TO SEE YOU. (If you do not wish your personal account to be visible, establish a second account/username with "open" privacy settings for our class.) In addition, the "Twitter Handle" assignment sheet is due by our Wednesday class in the second week of classes. You MUST end every tweet with the string "#birdclass"; that is how we will be tracking tweets, and any post without the hashtag will NOT count toward your credit! We will all be able to see every tweet generated by the class by searching on #birdclass. We will be keeping track of posting and points during the semester by tracking the posts themselves. The beauty of Twitter is that it can be posted to virtually at any time, anywhere --- it's possible to post using many types of cell phones. However, anyone with an internet connection can post from a computer, and you should be mindful (as you are responsible for) of any texting charges that posting from your phone may incur.

Academic Rules/Conduct

All students should be aware of the guidelines on academic integrity contained in the Student Conduct Code. Click here to see the Conduct Code.

Course Guidelines Form

After you have read ALL of the above, print out and sign the Course Guidelines Form. Hand it in to Dr. Rubega no later than the end of the last lecture of the 2nd week of classes. Students who have not signed and handed in the form in will not accumulate points on ANY quiz, assignment or activity until we have the signed form.


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

Bird News

A link to a page set up and maintained by Dr. Elphick.

Useful and Amusing Links

Environmental Campaign Internships

Field Ecology Internships

CT Beardsley Zoo Summer Internships

Awesome National Geographic article on feather evolution in dinosaurs

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

UConn Ornithology Collections Donation Page -- where to go if you find a dead bird! University of Connecticut Biological Collections, including the Bird Collection.

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.

Images of Bird Wings Online. The Slater Museum, at the University of Puget Sound, provides high-resolution images of their entire collection of spread (open) bird wings. Useful for studying flight style as a function of wing morphology.