Ornithology 101 in South Texas: A Learn-About-Birds Workshop Feb 06—11, 2018

Posted by Denver Holt

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Denver Holt

Denver Holt is a wildlife researcher and graduate of the University of Montana. He is founder and president of the Owl Research Institute, a nonprofit organization located ...

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Our previous Ornithology 101 workshops were held in November. We moved our 2018 workshop to February to avoid the extremely hot temperatures of November. We got our wish, as it was cold and rainy the first day, and then just cool with sprinkles for the rest of the class.

At our opening get-acquainted dinner we discussed the workshop and its objectives. At our first lecture the next morning we reviewed the fossil record of birds and their evolution, as indicated from morphology and more recent molecular techniques. We covered the numbers of bird orders, families, and species in the world. We then reviewed technical terms of bird topography and feather types for use in identifying species.

Each morning thereafter, we began with a review of various aspects of bird ecology. We paid particular attention to bird flight and its evolution, and bird bills, as the most important adaptations allowing birds to exploit every habitat in the world. While in the field we continually emphasized how flight gave birds the ability to spread to every habitat, and how vegetation influenced the evolution of bills, allowing birds to exploit food resources and thrive in every habitat known. By visiting a number of different habitats, we were better able to understand bird diversity.

Read Denver’s full report in his Field Report.