Field Guides

In the fall of 1973, shortly after starting my PhD at McGill University, I decided that I wanted to study a community of hummingbirds in western Mexico. During his own PhD research, my supervisor (major professor), Peter Grant, had discovered an apparent case of character displacement in the bill lengths of two hummingbird species on …

2019 Loye & Alden Miller Research Award Winner: A. Townsend Peterson

The American Ornithological Society (AOS) Loye and Alden Miller Research Award is given for lifetime achievement in ornithological research. Loye Holmes Miller and his son, Alden, left a remarkable legacy to the field of ornithology and to the Cooper Ornithological Society (COS). Together they sponsored 30 Ph.D. students, 28 in avian biology, and their students went on to train in turn a total of 166 scientists. Alden also made contributions to the COS and to ornithology as a long-standing editor of The Condor. This year, AOS is pleased to honor A. Townsend Peterson as the recipient of the Loye and Alden Miller Research Award.

Lifting Hunting Limits Hasn’t Solved the Snow Goose Overpopulation Problem

As many marshes along the Gulf Coast were drained in the late 1970s, Snow Geese that had used them as wintering areas began shifting to agricultural land instead. Leftover crops in farm fields provided them with a generous new winter and spring diet, and the population began growing at an unprecedented rate. While they have ample habitat in the south, the growing number of geese, coupled with their destructive foraging behaviors, has led to increasing and widespread habitat destruction in the Arctic coastal habitats where they breed.

2019 Stettenheim Award Winners: Mark Hauber & Phil Stouffer

In 2018, the American Ornithological Society (AOS) established the Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award, intended to carry on the tradition of the Cooper Honorary Member Award, one of the oldest awards in ornithology, which was discontinued when the Cooper Ornithological Society merged with the American Ornithologists’ Union to form AOS in 2016. This award is made in honor of a senior ornithologist who has provided extraordinary service to AOS. In 2019, the award is being presented jointly to Dr. Philip Stouffer and Dr. Mark Hauber.

2019 Jenkinson Award Winner: Alice Boyle

The Marion Jenkinson Service Award is given to an individual who has performed continued extensive service to the American Ornithological Society (AOS), including holding elected offices but emphasizing volunteered contributions and committee participation. The award honors Marion Jenkinson Mengel, who served the American Ornithologists’ Union as treasurer and in other capacities for many years, and consists of a framed certificate and an honorarium. The 2019 award is presented to Dr. Alice Boyle.

Congratulations 2019 Student & Postdoctoral Travel Award Winners

This year, AOS is providing a record amount of travel funding — over $125,000 — to students and postdoctoral researchers attending our upcoming annual meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. These awards make it possible for early-career ornithologists who lack other funding sources to participate in our annual meetings, present their research, and take advantage of professional …

Bird Paper Two

A few months ago (10 December 2018), I wrote about the first paper ever published about birds (here)—a description of a hummingbird from Barbados, published by the botanist Nehemiah Grew in May 1693. This publication was in the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions, and did not appear until 28 years after scientific publishing began, in 1665. …

UV Lights on Power Lines May Help Save Sandhill Cranes

Crane species are declining around the world, and lethal collisions with power lines are an ongoing threat to many crane populations. Current techniques for marking power lines and making them more visible to cranes aren’t always effective, but new research published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications shows that adding UV lights—to which many birds are sensitive—can cut …

Aves mexicanus

One of the curious traits shared by birders and professional ornithologists is an abiding interest in bird names, both common and scientific. With respect to common (English) names, I have previously highlighted attempts at standardization in the 1830s (here), one recognizing a woman (here), one that is obscure and obsolete (here), a recent name change …