Summer 2011
Fully Enrolled

SCIE 613
Biology of Birds


08/08/2011 - 08/12/2011
Note: Special Schedule 07:00 AM - 03:00 PM

Science Tower 137

Special Schedule: One-week immersion, August 8-12 (Monday-Friday) 7:00 am to 3:00 pm

Why study birds? Part of the appeal of birds lies in their color and beauty, interesting behavior, and impressive flight abilities. Bird study can provide an excellent education in many broadly applicable ecological principles. An interest in birds yields almost unlimited opportunities for discovery wherever one might be. For many non-biologists, watching birds is an important way to renew one's connection with the natural world.

This course goes into avian biology with considerable depth, but discussions are geared toward students with little or no training in biology. The major topics to be covered include evolution, biogeography, ecology, behavior, flight, migration, sensory abilities, basic anatomy and physiology, reproduction, research techniques, and conservation. Some of the specific questions to be investigated include: What does the fossil record tells us about the evolutionary origin of birds? Are birds really feathered dinosaurs? What do geographic patterns of avian diversity tell us about the history and future of birds? What changes in basic quadruped form and function have occurred in conjunction with the evolution of flight? How do birds cope with the environmental extremes of deserts and polar environments? What roles do vision, hearing, olfaction, and geomagnetic sensitivity play in the different aspects of a bird's life? How and why do birds sing? How flexible is bird behavior? What are the relationships among feeding ecology, reproductive behavior, and migration? Certain bird species appear to be declining in abundance, even in intact habitats. Why? What is the evidence? How do biological characteristics of birds help or hinder conservation efforts?

Our activities include morning field trips and afternoon classroom lectures and discussion. Course requirements include five field trip reports, a take-home final exam, and completion of a museum study guide. Field trip expenses will be shared by students.

Immersion courses are worth three units of credit and are academically as rigorous as a regular term course, only the class meetings are compressed into a very short time. Students interested in immersion courses should be aware that the syllabus usually requires that students prepare for up to a month prior to the first class meeting and complete assignments in the weeks following the course. Please click here for more information about immersion courses.

Enrollment is limited to 18 students.

This course is not open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Wednesday, July 6 at 5:00 pm. Please visit our website for a complete list of registration and withdrawal dates for this session.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
SCIE 613

Geoffrey Hammerson (B.S. University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder) is a research zoologist at NatureServe and is author of more than 70 reports and publications, most recently, The conservation status of the world's reptiles (Biological Conservation, 2013, with M. Bohm et al.) and Rapid assessment of plant and animal vulnerability to climate change (in Wildlife Conservation in a Changing Climate (University of Chicago Press, 2012, with Young et al.) Click here to read an article about Geoff and his GLS courses.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Field Studies

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Sibley, David Allen, The Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, Knopf

Sibley, David Allen,The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, Knopf

Reading Materials are available at BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 Broad Street, Middletown, 860-685-7323 Order your books online

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