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Thursday, January 16, 2020


Everyone's been sharing this link with me:…/hc-hm-birds-connecticut-in-declin…
It is a fine article, but as I pointed out to the author, like most everything in nature the situation is much, much more complicated than simply declines of bird species. From our work at Yale Forest, we know that Connecticut bird communities are extremely dynamic, with more that 50% turnover in 35 years and population increases actually outpacing decreases- climate change, habitat change, species moving into new habitats, competition, etc. etc. all appear to play roles. The graph shows Yale Forest population increases vs. decreases for species whose continental populations are (1) increasing, (2) decreasing and (3) stable. We will have an article out soon...

Monday, October 28, 2019


Plumage states of the Eskimo Curlew
Our Eskimo Curlew research is now available as an open access document at…/eskimo%20curlew%2…
It investigates the external anatomy of males vs. females and adults vs. juveniles, and identifies two previously undescribed plumage states. One of these states (see photo) exhibits prominent y-shaped markings on the breast whereas the other exhibits linear markings. It also documents, based on specimen data, the species' historical distribution.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Bird populations at Yale Forest have increased since 1985, but the amount of variability among individual study sites has also increased. As the figure shows, surveys were duplicated each year to gain a perspective of survey variability.

Unlike continental trends, which show that birds have declined by 30%, forest birds in northeastern Connecticut have undergone a 20% increase. Read about this and more in Bird Conservation Research's October newsletter:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


The first of the presentations for Bird Conservation Research's new course on endangered species conservation are now available.  These presentations focus on the history of endangered species conservation, the philosophical underpinnings of these efforts and the role of environmental scale in endangered species designation.  These presentations may be viewed at the BCR web site by following this link to the slideshow page.  Scroll to the bottom of the page to see Endangered Species Conservation.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Bird Conservation Contributions is the peer-reviewed scientific journal of Bird Conservation Research, Inc.  It is made available here through Arts and Academic Publishing.  The series consists of individually published papers on basic and applied avian research that have conservation implications.  Submissions may be data papers, syntheses or commentaries.  Submissions are welcome from anywhere in the world, and are particularly encouraged from women and minority authors, researchers at small and non-academic institutions, researchers who have single author contributions, researchers with limited publication budgets and new authors who may need assistance in achieving professional publication standards.  All submissions, correspondence and reviews are accomplished via the internet.  All published papers are open access. There are no page charges or author fees for accepted papers.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


Summer distribution of the Eastern Towhee (higher density in red regions).

Distributional maps for birds reviewed in Forest Birds of Connecticut and Rhode Island are now available in a new Bird Conservation Research, Inc. publication.  The maps are open access and may be viewed via Arts and Academic Publishing.  Distribution of habitat and community parameters like species richness are also mapped.  These maps provide the first ever view of the distribution of bird population densities across southern New England.  The maps were produced by Kyle Arvisais of the University of Maine School of Forestry.

Distribution of oak-dominated forest (higher density has larger dots).

Friday, April 27, 2018


Spring (green) and fall (red) locations for museum specimens of the Eskimo Curlew.

With examination of the specimen holdings at the U.S. National Museum and Yale Peabody Museum, our investigations into the external features of the Eskimo Curlew are drawing to a close.  To date, we have examined 86 specimens that were collected in spring, summer, fall and winter.  On each, we have made a series of measurements and also taken photographs of  breast, wing and back plumage. 

To examine differences in measurements, we used a statistical technique called discriminant function analysis.  This technique allows us to examine all measurements simultaneously.  Doing so has permitted us to conclude that males significantly differ from females in particularly bill and tail length.  We found no seasonal differences in measurements, however.  We are still working on comparing measurements of adults and juveniles.

To determine identity of adults and juveniles, we are scoring each specimen for a number of plumage traits, including shape, color, size and density of breast markings, feather edging of wing coverts and extent of spotting on back and scapular feathers.  Although this investigation is still ongoing, it so far appears that traditionally used means of aging individuals do not hold up to careful scrutiny.

In addition to examining specimens themselves, we are also studying the location data attached to each individual.  As traditionally thought, fall migration occurs principally through the Northeast, whereas spring migration occurs through the Great Plains.  Five late May specimens from Alaska provide evidence for a previously unconfirmed breeding population there, whereas specimens from western New York and Montreal provide evidence for a hypothesized fall migration corridor through the northeastern United States.