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Advances in Field Methods for Studying Songbird and Raptor Migration

Guest Marilyn Mayer

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Guest Marilyn Mayer

Advances in Field Methods for Studying Songbird and Raptor Migration


August 23 - August 29    Eagle Hill Institute, Steuben, Maine


Taught by Adrienne Leppold and David Brinker in one of North America’s most spectacular and pristine natural areas, the coast of eastern Maine from Acadia National Park to Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge and beyond. Course participants include advanced amateurs, graduate and undergraduate students, teachers, professional field biologists, university professors, and personnel from federal and state agencies and numerous environmental organizations.


For general program information, click here 

For more information including the syllabus, contact Marilyn Mayer:  marilyn@eaglehill.us    or  207-546-2821


Course Description

More than 300 species of birds occur in Maine at some point in their life cycle.  Maine is a nexus of activity for both breeding birds and migrant individuals. This course has been scheduled to overlap the transition period from the breeding season into fall migration. The main topics of the course include 1) methods for capturing and marking wild birds, 2) methods for studying avian migration behavior, and 3) data analysis/application. Days will primarily be spent in the field; however some afternoon/evening sessions will be reserved for dealing with statistical challenges and approaches. In particular, banding data are often amassed but not analyzed.

This course will be ideal for professors, graduate students, state or federal biologists, and upper level undergraduates looking to gain exposure to a diverse skill set in avian sampling methodologies. Field and classroom topics include, but are not limited to, mist-netting (passive and target with play-back), banding, in-hand age and sex determination, use of auxillary markers, and various emerging tracking technologies.  Field portions will be focused on the capture and study of songbirds and raptors and can be flexible given the specific interests and skill levels of participants. This course will be most beneficial for those with an existing knowledge of basic ornithological principles and species identification skills. 


About the Instructors

Adrienne Jo Leppold (aleppold@gmail.com) is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Maine studying behavioral ecology of landbird migrants in the Gulf of Maine.  Her work has made groundbreaking strides in understanding the movement of landbirds through the region and led to the creation of an international, multi-agency initiative to study bird migration in the Gulf of Maine region.  She has over 10 years experience working with training others in field ornithology practices.  While her studies have focused passerines, near passerines, and seabirds, she is also experienced with raptors and shorebirds  She has an extraordinary knowledge of songbird molt patterns and identification and is one of a couple hundred people licensed as a North American Banding trainer.  She has co-authored several banding manuals used by banding stations throughout North American and recommended by the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory.


David Brinker (dfbrinker@verizon.net) is an ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resource’s Natural Heritage Program where he has worked on biodiversity conservation since 1989.  His raptor experience covers most of 40 years, and he has worked with colonial nesting waterbirds and secretive marsh birds in the Chesapeake Bay for 30 years.  He is the founder of Project Owlnet and co-founder of Project SNOWstorm, two highly successful cooperative efforts to study migrating and wintering owls using bird banding and radio telemetry.  Since 1994, he has led the Central Appalachian Goshawk Study in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. For many years, Dave was affiliated with a long-term raptor banding and migration monitoring effort along the western shore of Green Bay.  He has authored or coauthored papers on Northern Goshawk population change, Red-tailed Hawk migration, Northern Saw-whet ecology and movement, American Oystercatcher distribution, as well as on secretive marsh birds and colonial nesting waterbirds.


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