Manual of Field and Laboratory Exercises for Ornithology


The exercises included in this manual are the outgrowth of teaching workshops sponsored by the Wilson Ornithological Society at two of its annual meetings. Each author presented her or his exercise to the workshop participants who took the part of the students: reading the handouts, asking questions, and performing the processes as explained in the exercise. After we completed the “class” the author benefited from discussion by the group and in subsequent months revised and submitted his or her exercise for inclusion in the manual. In addition to presentation and discussion at the Wilson Ornithological Society meeting and subsequent revision, each exercise that was submitted was reviewed by two teachers of ornithology with research interests in the subject of the proposed exercise. The reviewer’s comments were returned to the author who revised the manuscript, yet again, for inclusion in the manual. During this process many of us shared our exercises with each other and used them in our classes to try them out and to let each other know how they worked in a classroom situation when the teacher was not the author. Thus what you have before you are a set of exercises that have been conceived by teachers, tested by teachers, reviewed by research ornithologists, and tested by classes of undergraduates enrolled in ornithology.

The authors and the Wilson Ornithological Society are making these exercises available online so that you can download those that will be most useful for your course. Each exercise is written to be copied and read by students. We ask that you properly attribute each exercise to its author and acknowledge the Wilson Ornithological Society as the sponsor of the manual. Beyond that the exercises are yours to use and adapt to your individual needs. They are not to be reproduced and sold for profit, although custom published versions sold at cost are acceptable. Copy centers may reproduce without violation of copyright

We hope that you will let the author and editor know of problems you encounter when teaching an exercise, improvements you make, and thoughts you have regarding our effort to share exercises that have worked well in our ornithology courses.

Our manual is intended to be a living document that will change as the science of ornithology changes. The Wilson Ornithological Society will hold future workshops that will offer a chance to try new field and laboratory exercises. After suitable review these will be added to the present manual. Meanwhile, the authors and editor will change the present exercises in light of comments received from our users. So join us in teaching ornithology and sharing creative approaches to giving students a sense of the excitement of ornithology today as we teach the minds that will lead ornithology tomorrow.

Edward H. Burtt, Jr., Editor (deceased, 2015)
15 November 2002

Manual Chapters

Measurements of an Airfoil, William H. Barnard

Avian Censusing, Edward H. Burtt, Jr.

Natural Variation, Edward H. Burtt, Jr.

Forensic Ornithology, Carla J. Dove

Ethogram, Mildred Sears Funk

Recording & analysis of bird vocalizations (new edition, Feb 2018), Sylvia L. Halkin & Walter J. Berry

Form and Function: Feeding in Birds, E. Dale Kennedy & Douglas W. White

Avian Systematics, Sara R. Morris

Foraging Behavior, Mark R. Ryan

Hypothesis Testing, Doris J. Watt

Migration Behavior, Ernest J. Willoughby