Ecology and Conservation of Migratory Birds

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is excited to offer its intensive two-week course: Ecology and Conservation of Migratory Birds.  The course will be taught at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation ( in Front Royal, VA, USA. It’s open for enrollment.

Are you 1) A wildlife professional looking to expand your research skills to include migratory birds, 2) A recent college graduate looking to obtain professional skills to help you get into grad school or begin a career in natural resources and conservation, or 3) Beginning a graduate degree studying birds, but lack field and lab experience needed for your thesis/dissertation?

If so, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, in conjunction with the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation has a solution for you.  We are excited to offer for the second time this intensive two-week course in the mountains of beautiful Front Royal, VA, USA designed to teach conservation professionals, field scientists and graduate students the most current methods in the research of bird migration including theoretical concepts, field and laboratory methods, data analysis and applied conservation strategies. Field sessions will involve training in avian sampling techniques including: daily mist-netting sessions, banding, aging and sexing, tissue sampling, radio-tracking and point-transect distance sampling. Full modules will focus on analysis of mark-recapture data in rmark, and distance sampling analysis using program DISTANCE. R packages used in the analysis of isotope, geolocator, and standard telemetry data will also be demonstrated. Lecture topics will include: migratory connectivity, seasonal interactions, radar ornithology, life-cycle analyses, overwinter ecology, applied genetics, threats to migration, and applied conservation strategies. Finally, participants will learn to prepare museum study skins of bird specimens. SCBI scientists will lead the course, and guest lecturers from local hot spots of migratory bird work will provide students a glimpse into exciting, ongoing research and conservation efforts.

The course takes place from September 14-25, 2015 and the deadline to apply is July 6, 2015Partial scholarships are available on a competitive basis and reduced course fees are offered to those applying from “less-developed” countries. For information on course fees, scholarship opportunities and contact information, please visit:

Participants earn Continuing Education Units; graduate course credit (3) is available for qualified applicants through George Mason University at an additional fee. See the course’s page on our website for prerequisites.

New publication!

Climate models forecast major changes for the boreal region, where increased temperatures will result in hotter and drier conditions for forest species.  Large biodiversity datasets and advanced modeling methods have greatly improved scientists’ abilities to project changes in species distribution and abundance. But how useful are these projections, given uncertainties about the future? A new study led by Wild49 members Diana Stralberg and Erin Bayne, published in Ecological Applications ( provides climate-based projections of distribution and abundance for 80 boreal-breeding songbird species over the next 100 years, and demonstrates their utility for wildlife managers, accounting for climate-change uncertainties. A collaboration among researchers from the University of Alberta, Environment Canada, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Yukon College, and Université Laval, the study found that, for the North American boreal forest region, the climate-change “signal” in projected songbird responses to climate change exceeds the “noise” stemming from uncertainty associated with future climate and bird models. Researchers used a dataset of over 300,000 breeding bird surveys assembled by the Boreal Avian Modelling Project, combined with downscaled climate projections for North America, to develop these models. They found that, as uncertainty about the details of climate change increases over the coming century, so does the magnitude of projected change.  As a result, informative and reliable models were built for a large majority of species.  Projections from these models, available through Data Basin, can help inform conservation planning priorities, as well as assessments of species’ vulnerability to climate change, and species-specific conservation plans.

StralbergEtAlEcolApplCover (2)by Diana Stralberg

Job Posting: Ferruginous hawk field assistants

Field assistants needed for ferruginous hawk research project.

We are looking to hire 2-3 field assistants for an ongoing collaborative University of Alberta & Environment Canada study on the relationship between Ferruginous Hawks and industrial development in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Tasks include nest searching and monitoring, behavioural observation, capture, banding, automatic recording unit (ARU) setup. Additional duties will include landowner communication, identifying habitat characteristics, and other related tasks.

Applicants must have excellent note-taking skills (detailed and accurate), valid class 5 driver’s license with clean record, be capable of driving long distances, and cannot be afraid of heights, bugs, or heat.  Top applicants will possess: strong communication skills, raptor (and overall avian ID experience), some bird (raptor) handling experience, strong climbing ability, and aptitude for technology based work. Additional assets include driving 4WD trucks, vegetation identification experience, knowledge of Alberta’s Species At Risk, and navigational skills.

Pay rate for field assistants ranges between $2300 – $2800 CDN/month depending on experience.  Housing and food are included while in the field.  Work period typically consists of a 10 days on / 4 days off rotation; this is flexible, but overall work period amounts to 22 days/month.  Work terms starting in both early April continuing through July 31 with the possibility of extension.  Field work is primarily in southern Alberta, with some travel to southern Saskatchewan.

Apply early before the positions are filled! Applications will be accepted until March 6th, 2015. Please send a resume, cover letter, three references, and available start date to: Janet Ng (

Field Fun Friday

FlowerFlower Child…. or what happens when you are a fledgling and can’t avoid crash landing in a dandelion patch (Ferruginous Hawks are carnivores, so the flower was removed). This picture also illustrates some of features of the mouth, such as the glottis (the trachea opening at the rear of the tongue through which the bird breathes, and the rear-facing papillae (the black projections in front of the glottis) which helps the bird manipulate food in its mouth.

-by Melynda Johnson

PhD Opportunity at Southern Illinois University

PhD Assistantship in Movement Ecology

We seek a PhD student to work on movement ecology of bats, and possibly birds, using cutting-edge automated telemetry. The projects will cover multiple scales from individual foraging ranges to regional migration. The student will work on currently funded projects in Alaska and the Midwest, and we anticipate future funding in others areas as well. The research will require long periods in the field, often in remote locations, so the chosen student must be highly self-sufficient and self-motivated. While not required, previous experience with radio-telemetry is beneficial, and mist-netting experience is desirable. Much of this work will involve development and testing of new radio-telemetry techniques, so creativity, technical problem-solving skills, and strong computer skills are as important as experience with standard radiotelemetry. The student will be supported with a teaching assistantship, although there is a possibility of a research assistantship in the future.

The student will be based in the Boyles Lab ( at Southern Illinois University, and will be co-advised by Dr. Liam McGuire ( at Texas Tech University.

The Boyles Lab is part of the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and the Department of Zoology ( where we have an active and collegial research environment. Carbondale is small town on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest, so outdoor recreational activities abound.

Please send an email with a letter describing your interest and experience, a CV, and your unofficial GRE scores to Justin Boyles (

Job Posting: Natural Area Manager

Here is a great opportunity with The Nature Conservancy of Canada:

The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Region is looking for two Natural Area Managers for central and southeastern Alberta.

Details are available on the NCC website at:

These are full-time permanent positions, preferably located in the Red Deer and Medicine Hat/Lethbridge areas, respectively.

Resumes should be forwarded to

Application deadline is February 20, 2015

5th Anniversary Symposium for Methods in Ecology and Evolution

This may be of interest to our readers:

This year the British Ecological Society’s youngest journal, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, is turning five-years-old. To celebrate, we will be hosting a Joint Symposium across two continents.

“Looking Forward to the Next Five Years”
Charles Darwin House, London, UK

To mark the launch of Methods in Ecology and Evolution back in April 2010, we held a symposium at Charles Darwin House. Five years on, we are returning to celebrate the successes of the journal. With talks from a former Robert May Young Investigator Prize Winner and a number of the journal’s Associate Editors, as well as an introduction from the President of the BES, this is sure to be a fantastic start to the Symposium.

Register at:

“Next Generation Ecology and Evolution: Genomics Tools for the Study of Ecology, Evolution, and Biomonitoring”
University of Calgary Dining Center, The Alberta Room, Calgary, Canada

As the first half of our joint symposium finishes in London, the baton will be taken up over 4000 miles away in Calgary. The program in Calgary is packed with exciting speakers and topics. Our Joint Symposium will conclude with a Poster Session and a wine reception for all delegates.

Register at:

Register now! Early bird deadline closes on 20th March 2015!

The whole event will be live streamed, so if you can’t make it to London or Calgary, you can watch the talks from wherever you are. Details of how to view the live streams will be made available closer to the date here: