Welcome to Ornithology AEC 501

Our goal for this course is to build a foundation of knowledge that will stimulate you to keep learning about birds for the rest of your life. Our approach will focus primarily on the behavior and ecology of birds, and the development of field skills.

Sightings - Extra Credit

Earn extra credit by adding species to the class list or answering the "Question of the Week."

Field Labs

Friday morning labs will focus on developing identification skills and understanding modern bird sampling methods.

Coastal Field Trip

We will visit the Outer Banks the weekend of February 1st. Expect to see over 100 species on Pea, Bodie, Hatteras, and Ocracoke Islands, and Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge.

Course Instructor and Teaching Assistants

Course News

News & Notes for Ornithology ZO501 Spring 2014

4/15/2014 Vultures can't catch a break!

Scientists warn against vulture-killing drug in Spain. There's also an interesting article about the Alvin in this issue of Science

4/14/2014 Paying Farmers to Welcome Birds

Bird watchers and farmers in the Central Valley have joined in an innovative plan to restore essential habitat for migrating birds in a new program called BirdReturns. Read more about this groundbreaking program here.

4/14/2014 Signs of Spring

The first pair of American Oystercatchers arrived on a snowy Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia, on Saturday.

4/10/2014 Class on Monday 14 April

Monday's lecture will cover a variety of topics in avian conservation. We'll also have a discussion in class about current conservation problems and solutions. Please come to class prepared to offer your perspective on this topic.

4/8/2014 Understanding Feathers and more

The Cornell Lab just released this great website for exploring the world of feathers: All about bird biology

4/7/2014 Call for volunteer help: April posting and May counting

From Dr. Sarah Schweitzer, a Coastal Waterbird Biologist with the NCWRC:

The week of posting will run as close to this schedule as possible:

Tuesday, April 8, 10:30 a.m. -- meet at the Oregon Inlet boat ramp and help post islands along Old House Channel and Wanchese Harbor Channel

Wednesday, April 9, 8 a.m. -- finish islands near Oregon Inlet as needed.

 Thursday, April 10, 7 a.m. -- post Cora June and DOT Islands near Hatteras Inlet; and Big Foot Island near Ocracoke Island. 

 Friday, April 11, 10:30 a.m. -- post the east end of Ocean Isle Beach at Shallotte Inlet; then the west end of Holden Beach at Shallotte Inlet.

In addition, there will be counting work in May following this schedule (weather permitting).


I have been asked about the schedule for May and the surveys of nesting ibis, pelicans, herons, egrets, and gulls, so I have drafted a tentative schedule for coastal sites where those species nest. The attached PDF has the proposed date, nesting location, and nearest town (for your reference if you aren't familiar with the site). If you are interested in helping with one or more of the surveys, please let me know so I can give you more information. NCWRC will have boats to get you to sites, but you will need to bring your food and drinks, as well as having the appropriate attire. I can elaborate on "attire" later, but don't volunteer for Monkey Island if you have any fear of snakes at all. NCWRC has snake chaps for those who want to go to that island.


Contact Dr. Schweitzer if you're interested in helping with surveys!

4/7/2014 Dendroica: An aid to identifying Western Hemisphere birds

Thanks Ryan Southard for passing along the link to Dendroica . This website allows you to search for images and recordings of Western Hemisphere birds. It's worth exploring!

4/3/2014 MAPS chat newsletter

This issue of the MAPS newsletter introduces TMAPS (Tropical Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) in American Samoa among other interesting headlines from the Institute for Bird Populations.

Thanks to Chris Inscore for giving us a heads up about this interesting upcoming seminar:

NCWRC wildlife biologist Christine Kelly will present a program on golden eagle research she has been involved in onApril 24 (Thursday) at 6 p.m. at the Museum of Natural Sciences in the SECU Daily Planet Theatre. Chris’ talk coincides with her story on golden eagles in the March-April issue of Wildlife in North Carolina.

4/1/2014 Whooping Crane shootings

American Bird Conservancy urges action against Whooping Crane shootings. If you use Google Chrome, the link to the RSS feed may not work well, but see the second link to the main web page will get you there!  http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/bnn.xml


3/29/2014 Fecal sacks and infection

Thanks to Beth Stevenson for sharing this paper!

The authors of this paper suggest that the mucous coating on a fecal sack reduces infections associated with enteric bacteria Ibanez-Alamo et al 2014

3/28/2014 “Audubon’s Aviary: Parts Unknown” at the New-York Historical Society shows John James Audubon as an established artist-naturalist with the zeal of an amateur and the curiosity of a scientist.

This is the second of three sequential exhibitions of the museum's more than 400 paintings by Audubon: An Exaltation of Birds and He Who Adored Them

3/27/2014 MAPS Volunteer Internship and other announcements

The MAPS program is looking for an intern at Fort Bragg this summer.

MAPS VOLUNTEER INTERNSHIP: We seek a motivated, enthusiastic volunteer in good physical condition with a strong desire to learn more about birds and natural history. One (1) position is available in Fort Bragg, NC. The Internship would begin on approximately May 7 and run through August 8, 2014.
All successful applicants are expected to face the rigors and unpredictability of field conditions with good humor and flexibility. Prior banding experience or a background in wildlife biology or a closely related field is a plus, but not necessary because the intern will receive on-the-job training in mist-netting, and the identification, handling, banding, and aging and sexing of landbirds throughout the field season.A per diem of $28 for food and incidental expenses will be provided. Interns are expected to spend a minimum of 6 of every 10 days in the field, contingent upon daily weather conditions and logistical considerations. If you have a vehicle that you would be willing to use in the field, mileage will get reimbursed at the rate of $0.35/mile for all work related travel. A vehicle is not required.To apply, please send in your cover letter, resume and contact information for 3 references to *Edye Kornegay at mestric3@ncsu.edu. Applications will be considered as they are received and the position will remain open until filled.

3/26/2014 New NC Partners in Flight Newsletter

Look at new job postings and ornithological news in the most recent NCPIF Newsletter

3/25/2014 Lots of announcements today!

Monitoring for bird-window collisions. Check out the info here. Oddly enough, I used to live in Rock Island, IL!

"500 pound chicken from Hell": NPR and PLOSone

David Allen Sibley releases new guide: Wall Street Journal article

3/14/2014 North Carolina Birding Trail News and Workshops

The North Carolina Birding Trail is a cooperative organization of agencies that put together workshops, webinars, and opportunities to bird for both recreation and science. Check out the following link to learn about bird ID or find ways that your bird sightings can contribute to long term monitoring: NC Birding Trail Mail.

3/3/2014 Urbanization induces loss of species diversity worldwide.

Here's a link to a recent article that shows urban areas worldwide have only 8% of native bird and 25% of native plant species despite cities often being placed in species rich regions: Global Analysis of Impacts of Urbanization on Bird and Plant Diversity.

3/2/2014 First egg laid at Jordan Lake Eaglecam Nest!

Check out the Eaglecam at Jordan Lake http://www.ustream.tv/jordanlakeeagles. This first egg of the season is almost two months later than in previous years. Reading - Restoring the Bald Eagle.

2/26/2014 Reminder: Zoo trip this Saturday (1Mar)

This trip is extra credit. Meet at the vans a little before 7:30a. Questions? Ask in class or send Allison an email.

Check out the Aviary Guide before the trip to familiarize yourself with some of the birds we'll be seeing!

2/20/2014 Controversial plan to eliminate exotic Mute Swans from New York State.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/18/opinion/speaking-up-for-the-mute-swan.html?ref=opinion&_r=0 .

What do you think? Send us your thoughts and we’ll post them below.

"Where does "native" begin? All things colonize to become established, from the first tetrapods to leave the sea, we are all immigrants."

"Invasive plant species are removed regularly, to great benefit. Should we have different standards for plants and wildlife?"

2/19/2014 Woodcock Walk tomorrow and Saturday

Meet tomorrow (Thursday 20 Feb) at 5:15 PM or Saturday (22 February) at 5:30 PM at the entrance road to Schenck Forest. John Connors will lead a walk to view displaying woodcock. Dress warmly, wear sturdy footwear, and bring a flashlight and binoculars.

2/18/2014 Plastic ingestion by seabirds is worse than you thought!

The problem is more than just amount of plastic in birds' stomach cavities -- it's the amount of trace metals from plastics in birds' tissues


2/16/2014 Thanks Courtney, for passing along the following video clips

Are corvids the ultimate problem solvers?

The fisherman and the raven

Evolution myths and misconceptions

2/12/2014 Create an interesting figure using the Raleigh CBC dataset for extra credit

The Christmas Bird Count can reveal intersting patterns in species occurrence over time, and might help you identify local species to focus on or be a good backdrop for your class project discussions. The datset summarizes counts from 1917 to 2013. Thomas Quay contributed to this count for over 60 years! You might recognize some other names on the list of observers as well.

If you create an interesting summary figure from this dataset, send it to Allison for one extra credit point. Only one figure per person.

You can find the online data source at Audubons Christmas Bird Count data portal.

2/6/2014 OBX Species List

You can now access the OBX species master list! The bolded species are ones reported by two groups and the purple species are the ones reported by all three groups. It's quite a list!

2/4/2014 REMINDER!!

Remember to turn in your van species list to Allison by tomorrow (Wed 5Feb). There is a folder on her office door (DCL 219) or you can put them in her mailbox. Email her if you have any questions!


1/31/2014 Local American Oystercatcher Soaking the Rays in Mexico

Photo of the first American Oystercatcher banded in North Carolina and resighted in Mexico. This bird (Dark Green CHK) was first banded along with its sibling by Jon Altman at Cape Lookout National Seashore on 3 July 2013. Its sibling was last seen in Dixie County, Florida on 16 November 2013. One of this birds parents was also banded (captured in 2004) and has been seen in Dixie County, Florida. The traveler in the photo (CHK) was seen in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico on 27th October 2013 and again on 5 January 2014.

The Dark Green indicates that the bird was banded in North Carolina. Photo of CHK "beaching it" in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico.

The bird was banded in North Carolina and resighted in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico

1/29/2014 Polar Bears turn to Snow-Goose egg diet

Global warming is causing Polar Bears to spend more time on land, changing their diet.

Polar Bears turn to Snow-Goose Egg Diet

1/24/2014 Outer Banks bird species list

Familiarize yourself with this list of species we're likely to see on our trip next weekend.

1/22/2014 Barred and Spotted Owl conflict!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grapples with the ethical dilema of killing one raptor to save another.


1/19/2014 The mystery of the V formation solved!

Scientists from the Royal Veterinary College have discovered the answer to why so many birds fly in a V formation over long distances.


1/17/2014 "Unique" bird migration discovered!

'A tracking device which weighs less than a paperclip has helped scientists uncover what they say is one of the world's great bird migrations.'


1/14/2014 NC Partners in Flight

North Carolina Partners in Flight Newsletter is now available! http://ncpartnersinflight.org/

1/9/2014 Lab Reminders

Tomorrow is our first lab! Meet in DCL 282 at 8a. We will be in a lab space, which means absolutely no food or drink. I know it's early, but make sure to finish your breakfast and coffee before coming to lab. Leave water bottles outside on the table outside the door. No exceptions!

1/8/2014 Bios and Binos

Please send a picture and a short bio to Allison by Friday. Touch on your background, your interest in taking the class, and your experience with bird identification and sampling. Chris Inscore sent along this great Binocular Review from the Lab of Ornithology. Thanks Chris!

1/6/2014 Instructions for Lab Friday 10 January

We will meet in 282 DCL from 08:00 - 11:00 this Friday 10 January to talk about bird population sampling methods. Before lab download Program Presence from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Software Archive. Bring your laptop with the installed software and sample data to lab on Friday. The link to the archive and the BLGR sample data we will use on Friday are available on the "Lab Info" page under "Handouts."

1/1/2014 Welcome to Ornithology 2014

The first day of class is Monday 6 January 2014. We meet in Room 102 David Clark Labs from 9:10 - 10:00 AM. The text for this class is Ornithology, Third Edition, by Frank Gill. It is available in the NCSU bookstore. You will also need a pair of binoculars and a waterproof field notebook. Contact Dr. Simons, Allison or Eli if you have questions.