Ornithology Lecture

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Carmine Bee tree2-F.Gallo.jpg

Carmine Bee eaters; Photo copyright Frank Gallo


Basic Course Information

Spring 2008

Meets: Monday & Wednesdays, 11:00 - 11:50, NOTE:THIS CLASS HAS BEEN MOVED TO BUSINESS RM 106

Instructor: Dr. Margaret Rubega Office: PharmBio 500

Office Phone: 486-4502 Office Hours: By appointment

Email: margaret.rubega@uconn.edu Your emails to me MUST contain the phrase "EEB 281” in the subject line; email received without that phrase, and especially those with a blank subject line, will be DELETED without being read.

Teaching Assistant: Susan Meiman Office: PharmBio 310

Office Phone: 486-3005 Office Hours: MW 12:00 - 1:00 pm

email: susan.meiman@huskymail.uconn.edu

Required text

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

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

Optional 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 Optional reading from Proctor & Lynch [in brackets], and other resources
1 Jan 23 What are birds and why would we study them? Pgs. xxi- xxvi and Chapter 1 [1–6]
2 Jan 28 Birds of the World Chapter 1 & online at: www.whfreeman.com/gill3e
3 Jan 30 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.

4 Feb 4 Birds of the World, continued Chapter 1 & online at: www.whfreeman.com/gill3e
5 Feb 6 Birds of the World, completed Chapter 1 & online at: www.whfreeman.com/gill3e
6 Feb 11 Avian evolution Chapter 2 [13 – 21]
7 Feb 13 Feathers Chapter 4 [81–115]
8 Feb 18 Flight Chapter 5 [117,136–139, 148–151, 156–163] Article and videos of wing-assisted incline-running!
9 Feb 20 Physiology: Endothermy and Thermoregulation Chapter 6 (pgs. 150-164) CLASS MEETS IN BUS 106 STARTING TODAY!
10 Feb 25 TEST 1 Lectures 1-9; all associated readings Click here to view a Sample Test
11 Feb 27 Endothermy and Thermoregulation,continued
12 Mar 3 Physiology: Respiration and Circulation Chapter 6 (141-150) [189-217] If time allows: Feeding, feeding structures and feeding behavior
13 Mar 5 Physiology: Digestion and Excretion; Water Balance Chapter 6 (pp. 164-179) [175-187, 219-239]
14 Mar 17 Digestion, carry over
15 Mar 19 Sensory Biology and Intelligence Chapter 7 [241-262] See evidence that birds are smarter than you!
16 Mar 24 Communication: Visual Pgs. 344-359
17 Mar 26 Communication: Vocal Chapter 8
18 Mar 31 Annual Cycles Chapter 9
19 Apr 2 TEST 2 Key! Lectures 10-18, all associated reading
20 April 7 Migration Chapter 10 (pgs. 273-295)
21 Apr 9 Social Behavior Chapter 11
22 Apr 14 Reproduction: Mating Behavior Pg. 359 through Chapter 13
23 Apr 16 Reproduction: Physiology Chapter 14 [219-239]
24 Apr 21 Reproduction: Nests and Nesting Chapter 15
25 Apr 23 Reproduction: Growth and Development of Young Chapter 16 (pgs. 467-482)
26 Apr 28 Reproduction: Parental Care Chapter 16 (pgs. 482-502)
27 Additional content CANCELLED due to overuns.


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 and minute papers. The grades will not be "curved", and there will be no opportunities for "make-up" or "extra-credit" points. If you miss a test or minute paper, you will receive a score of zero. If you have a legitimate reason (click here for a sample of legitimate vs. lame excuses) to miss a test or minute paper, you may be excused (at the discretion of the instructors) IF AND ONLY IF you provide written documentation (for example, a doctor's note documenting illness; an obituary documenting a death in your family). 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 tests and minute papers you did complete. NOTE that this method reduces the number of points you can afford to lose and still do well in the course.

Attendance is not taken, and is not required; however, if you miss class you may miss in-class minute papers (see below). As noted above, there are no opportunities for making-up missed minute papers.

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 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: 75 points, Feb. 25 (Covers material from Lectures 1-9)

Test 2: 75 points, April 2 (Covers material from Lectures 10-18): Click here to view key for Test 2

Final: 150 points, May 7 (75 points are dedicated to material from Lectures 19-27, 75 points are dedicated to material from the WHOLE COURSE)

Click here to view a Sample Test

TEST TOTAL 300 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 1 point each, and there will be 10 of them over the whole semester. Ten points may seem trivial, but it's worth remembering that it's the equivalent of 3 percentage points, enough in borderline cases to make 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.


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.

Can I reschedule my final in this class because: a)I have more than one other exam on the same day as the final for this course; b)I am leaving town before the exam; c) I got sick the night before the exam; d) I overslept and missed the exam? Believe it or not, this is not up to me. There is a university-wide policy on rescheduling exams here. READ IT CAREFULLY NOW, and save yourself some trouble later. If you have an allowable reason to reschedule, see the registrar first, b/c I cannot help you without the registrar's permission slip. ALSO: I will be out of town from May 8th to the 11th, so if you require rescheduling make sure you contact me no later than the end of the day on May 7th.

I am/have been/might be sick, and it's difficult/inconvenient/impossible for me to get a doctor's note. Are you really going to refuse to excuse me if I don't show up for a minute paper/test/other credit-bearing exercise? The short answer to this is yes, I AM going to refuse to excuse you. The policy laid out above (in Grading) is simple --- some form of documentation is required before I will even consider excusing you. The policy exists to ensure fair treatment of everyone, to reduce the temptation to use feigned illness as a way to, for example, gain time before taking a test, and to avoid the need for me to have the discernment of Solomon in determining whether to excuse someone or not. It is simple because simple is unambiguous. You get documentation, or you cannot be excused. I am NOT encouraging you to come to class when you are sick. On the contrary, I urge you to eat right, get enough sleep, protect your health, and keep your germs to yourself. However, if you do get sick, and while sick find that getting some documentation is more burden than you can face, you are then faced with a choice --- is it worth a point? 10 points? 75 points? of your grade to do what has to be done to get some documentation of your condition? The choice is really yours --- I don't take your absences personally -- and the outcome of the choice is really your responsibility.

Useful and Amusing Links

Think of the birds the next time you make a phone call....

Ancient feathers in Amber!

Another Bird Exhibit!

Bird Rehabilitation Internship Opportunity!

Click here to view a Sample of an EEB 281 Test

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

NPR piece and song by Sufjan Stevens about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker "rediscovery", and the effect on Brinkley, AK. See also this recent NY Times article on the effect in Brinkley as hope has faded that the bird is actually there. (Thanks to Kevin Burgio for the link.)

NEW BIRD DISCOVERED in Nepal! Unfortunately, it's already endangered.