Ornithology Lecture

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Revision as of 03:26, 21 January 2013 by Margaret Rubega (Talk | contribs) (Course Guidelines and Grading Policies)

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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? Course Guidelines Form Due. Pgs. xxi- xxvi and Chapter 1 in Gill [1–6]
2 Jan 30 Birds of the World. Chapter 1 & online at: www.whfreeman.com/gill3e
3 Feb 4 Avian evolution Chapter 2 [13 – 21]
4 Feb 6 Feathers Chapter 4 [81–115] Also: Dinosaur feather colors revealed!
5 Feb 11 Flight Chapter 5 [117,136–139, 148–151, 156–163] Article and videos of wing-assisted incline-running!
6 Feb 13 Physiology: Endothermy and Thermoregulation Chapter 6 (pgs. 150-164)
7 Feb 18 Feeding, feeding structures and feeding behavior Chapter 1 (pgs. 13-15) [122–130, 152-154], Tool making in New Caledonian Crows!
8 Feb 20 Physiology: Digestion and Excretion; Water Balance Chapter 6 (pp. 164-179) [175-187, 219-239]
9 Feb 25 Physiology: Respiration and Circulation Chapter 6 (141-150) [189-217]
10 Feb 27 Sensory Biology and Intelligence Chapter 7 [241-262] See Evidence that birds are smarter than you!
11 &12 Mar 4 - 6 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 11 Annual Cycles Chapter 9
Mar 13 Mid-term exam Lectures through Communication: Visual AND Vocal; all associated readings Click here to view a Sample Test
14 Mar 25 Migration Chapter 10 (pgs. 273-295)
15 Mar 27 Navigation Chapter 10 (pgs. 295-306)
16 April 1 Social Behavior Chapter 11
17 Apr 3 Reproduction: Mating Behavior Pg. 359 through Chapter 13
18 Apr 8 Reproduction: Physiology Chapter 14 [219-239]
19 Apr 10 Reproduction: Nests and Nesting Chapter 15
20 Apr 15 http://hydrodictyon.eeb.uconn.edu/eebedia/images/6/6c/Lecture_Notes_Chick_Growth.pdf Reproduction: Growth and Development of Young] Chapter 16 (pgs. 467-482)
21 Apr 17 http://hydrodictyon.eeb.uconn.edu/eebedia/images/9/9f/Parental_Care.pdf Reproduction: Parental Care] Chapter 16 (pgs. 482-502)
22 April 22 Avian Conservation Chapter 21
23 April 24 Avian Conservation continued pgs.558-569
24 April 29 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.

25 May 1 Lecture overruns, review?
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/Minute Papers


Test 1: 100 points, March 7 (Covers material from Lecture 1 through March 5th)

Final: 120 points, May 2 (100 points are dedicated to material after 2nd Test, 20 points are dedicated to material from the WHOLE COURSE)

Click here to view a Sample Test

Tests, total points 220 points

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. They are worth 3 points each, and there will be 10 of them over the whole semester. Three points apiece may seem trivial, but it's worth remembering that, taken together, the minute papers are worth 10% of your grade, conceivably the difference between a B and an A. The questions on the minute papers are designed to provide us with feedback on your background preparation for certain material, to assess whether you understood what we just tried to teach you, and to prompt you to assess your own understanding of the material. Occasionally, instead of a minute paper, I may administer a GRADED, 3 point quiz. These will be used as practice for larger tests, to assess your knowledge and understanding, and to keep you engaged. If I see evidence that the work of the class is not being taken seriously, I will shift from ungraded minute papers to graded quizzes.

Minute papers/Quizzes, total points 30 Points

Other Required Class Activities

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: February 2 @ 2pm; February 9 @ 9am; February 15 @ 12pm; March 6 @ 10am; APRIL 9 @ 8am.

Biological Collections tour total points 5 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 at least 10 times; 5 of your posts must be up by 5 pm on March 7. 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?" I must know your username in order to give you credit for Twitter post: use your first initial/last name, thus Matthew McHenry would have a user name of mmchenry. If you find your particular username is already taken, pick something logical. Once your account is in place, then use "Find People" on Twitter to locate me (type in "Margaret Rubega" or "ProfRubega")and then click on "Follow" to follow me. I will receive an autumated message informing me that you are following me, and will have a record of your user name. You MUST end every tweet with the string "#BirdClass"; that is how I will be tracking tweets, and any post without it 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.

Twitter posting total points 30 points

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.


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.

Do we have to know about flight in depth?

Sorry, I'm not sure I understand the question. The lecture outline, and the lecture I gave, and the minute paper we did on flight, are all indicators of the basic extent to which I expect you to know about flight. It is more likely you will do very well on the exam if you know about flight in depth (i.e., have mastered everything in the textbook on flight as well); but not having mastered every word of what's in the book does not preclude a good grade on the test.

And while we are on the subject, if you aren't sure you understand the basics of flight mechanics, this might help you understand wing-loading.

I was reviewing the Galliformes and realized that online in the chart provided it was "Family/Order" and it contains guinea fowl/quails etc. I am just wondering if because this is "family/order" and not just "family" like the other charts if we need to have these learned as well since they seem to technically be orders?

You need to know that the Galliformes are the fowl-like birds, and their major characteristics, distribution and # of species, as a group. There is a chart on the Galliform page showing the families WITHIN the Galliformes, but I am not expecting you to know the families (anything that ends in "idae" is a family) -- only the orders. I don't have any idea why that table has a header that says "Order/Family" -- I suspect it is because there is debate about whether some of those families are, in fact, orders of their own. You are only responsible for knowing the orders named as orders in Table 1.1 on that website.

I think it was mentioned in class but can not find it in my notes. In your outlines the accipitriformes which has 240 species is not on the table 1-1 of Birds. Should we considers the acciptriformes to be in the falconiformes order on the exam?

Thanks for letting me know that lecture outline and the website don't match; when in doubt, use the WEBSITE as the final word on what will be considered correct on the test. So in this case, yes, the accipters are in the Falconiiformes.

what is the difference between torpor and endotherm,thrust and drag? what is the pygostyle?

You will find that every one of those terms is defined in your text book (search for them alphabetically in the index in the back), and in the lecture outlines posted (above) on the class web page. I will not relecture here; if you don't understand why torpor and endothermy, for instance, are not the same, I suggest you re-read the section on both in your book, and my lecture outlines. If it still is not clear, then let me know, in greater detail, why they seem the same to you, so I can see where I can usefully clarify.

Online it says 5 of the twitter posts had to be done by March 2nd, but I thought I remembered you saying in class that they were not due until the midterm. I must have misread online earlier in the semester because I thought it said by the midterm.

My bad --- I DID say in lecture that you had until 5 pm yesterday, even though the online syllabus says the 2nd, and I meant to stick to the 2nd. However, as I said it, I will live by it, so everything up until 5 pm on March 7 counts. If you have done MORE than 5 by the 7th, all those will count toward the 10-tweet requirement for the semester. If you have done FEWER than 5, you can ONLY add an additional 5 tweets for credit between now and the end of the semester.

Bird News

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

Useful and Amusing Links

Field Ecology Internships

Summer Environmental Internships

CT Beardsley Zoo Summer Internships

Awesome National Geographic article on feather evolution in dinosaurs

Wicked Nova Series on Four-winged Dinosaurs! Watch it here.

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.