EEB 4261: Ornithology Laboratory

Basic Course Information

EEB 4261

Spring 2016

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

Teaching Assistant: Andrew Stillman
Office: PharmBio 225 Phone: 486-5522
Office Hours: Mon. 10:05 – 11:05 in BioPhysics cafe; or by appointment

Your emails to us 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.

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 22 P & L p. 274-281,286-287; Sibley p. 9-14; Clark p. 1-19 Course Intro: How We Roll + Tools of the trade: Optics, Field Guides, Field Notes and Journals Come dressed and ready to bird; meet in TLS 371
Jan 29 The Value of Museum Collections article; 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 6 Handouts Opportunities in Ornithology – You Mean I Can Get Paid for This? Come dressed to bird, bring your resume if you have one
Feb 12 Tour of Mansfield Birding Spots
Feb 19 P & L p. 81-105 Feathers & Aerodynamics
Feb 26 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 4 P & L Chap. 5 Anatomy – Skeletons Check for weather, and come dressed to bird
March 11 MIDTERM EXAM; birding after
March 25  Proctor & Lynch p. 266-273; and this Overview of Birds on Radar Weather and Bird Movements: If weather allows, go Outside to EXPERIENCE both! Birds and Weather worksheet & eBird exercise (to be done in class)
April 1 Coastal Birding; Avery Point Campus
April 8 Handouts Field Techniques: Survey methods Come dressed to bird! And arrive on time, we’ll be leaving to walk to the HEEP site.
April 15
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HEEP Site Points tour – outside all four hours Map of our point count stations at the HEEP site, MEET AT THE intersection of NORTH EAGLEVILLE AND HILLSIDE ROADS! Don’t come to Torrey!
April 22 Handout Field Techniques: Behavioral observations
April 30 Bird, Bird, Bird – outside all four hours
May 2 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.


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: 75 points, March 15

Final: 75 points, May 6

Field Notebook: 10 points

Worksheets/Quizzes 40 points (4 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 or View the locations on Google Earth/Maps

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).

Note that you are required to keep a Field Notebook. Notebooks will be collected for assessment and feedback, at random, throughout the course of first half of the semester. You may not begin work on your independent observations (themselves worth 35 points) until you have demonstrated notebook competence AND you must achieve notebook competence by the midterm or forgo your opportunity to earn the 35 points from the independent observations. At the final assessment of your notebook, you will be awarded from 1 (just barely competent) to up to 10 points (EXCELLENT) for notebook skills.

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


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

Useful and Amusing Links

Online field guides

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.

Field guide apps

An article from the NY Times on smart phone apps for birding

A feature comparison of various bird guide apps, inlcuding Sibley, Peterson, NatGeo, and iBird

A forthcoming app for automatically IDing bird song in the field

Apps for finding birds

Cornell’s BirdsEye app (for finding recent sightings using the eBird database)

iCTBirds: an app for finding birds in CT using the Connecticut Ornithological Association’s CTBirds listserv

A webpage that shows recent sightings from birding hotspots around Storrs (for free!), using the eBird database

Bird blogs

Dave LaPuma’s Bird Migration Blog, an excellent spot to learn to use weather radar to watch migration happen. As he says: Look Busy, Birds Are Coming!

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).

Jobs in Ornithology

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

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 860-486-8945

To sign-up, let Dr. Rubega or Andrew know which date/hours you would like to work using this sign-up form. No more than 2 students in an hour block simultaneously, unless Sue Hochgraf approves it. No collections work during spring break this year (2016).

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 4
Feb 11
Feb 18
Feb 25  ————-
Mar 3  Mary Ward  ————-  
Mar 10  Rob Turnbull  Rob Turnbull  Harley Pastore,Katie Callery Harley Pastore, Katie Callery  Megan Borowy
Mar 17 Spring Break No Collections Work
Mar 24  Rob Turnbull,Genevieve Nuttall  Rob Turnbull,Genevieve Nuttall  Sarah Samperi,Genevieve Nuttall  Harley Pastore,Katie Callery  Harley Pastore,Katie Callery
March 31  Genevieve Nuttall  Genevieve Nuttall  Mary Ward,Sarah Samperi  Carl Underwood  Carl Underwood,Taylor Auer Carl Underwood
April 7  Rob Turnbull, Taylor Auer  Rob Turnbull, Chris Darrow  Mary Ward, Sarah Samperi  Carl Underwood,

Chris Darrow

 Megan Borowy, Taylor Auer  Megan Borowy
April 14  Rob Turnbull,

Meagan Borowy

 Rob Turnbull Sarah Samperi, Chris Darrow  Annie Munro  Talyor Auer,Mike Steeves  Mike Steeves
April 21  Taylor Auer,

Annie Munro

 Annie Munro  Mary Ward, Annie Munro  Annie Munro