Bio 3955 & 7980+7982 Ornithology

Back to teaching home page

In F22, I am offering Ornithology (lecture + lab) as a combined undergraduate (3955) and graduate (7980 + 7982) course.

The course will focus primarily on the evolution, ecology, population biology, and behavior of birds … using birds as a way to explore topics that are also broadly relevant for other taxa. Accordingly, it will fulfill the Population Biology breadth requirement for undergraduate BIO majors. The course will have only a secondary emphasis on the anatomy and physiology of birds (it will not be a traditional organismal-level ornithology course).

I will expect students completing the class to have …

  • learned to identify by sight and sound a good number of birds (perhaps 100 species) that occur as residents or migrants in our region
  • developed proficiency in the use of binoculars and telescopes in field ornithology
  • demonstrated ability to understand primary literature in ornithology through completion of writing assignments involving summary and commentary of journal articles; the course accordingly will count toward the CLAS Core Curriculum research requirement for undergraduates

The lab component will include …

  • field exercises during multiple Tue morning lab periods involving identification and observation of birds on the Villanova campus and nearby (e.g., Stoneleigh, Valley Forge, Heinz NWR, Philadelphia zoo)
  • other exercises focusing on avian diversity, anatomy, behavior, and ecology
  • weekend day trips (Sat or Sun, dates to be arranged) to Important Bird Areas in the region (at least 2 required; others optional, for potential extra credit); localities may include …
    • Cape May
    • Bombay Hook NWR
    • Forsythe (Brigantine) NWR
    • Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

This class would be excellent preparation for any students considering our Field Ecology & Evolution ( = Tropical Biology) course sequence in F23-S24. That sequence will include a 2-week field trip to Costa Rica (early Jan 2024) that will include considerable, although not exclusive, emphasis on birds.

Undergraduates and graduate students will complete all course elements together. Expectations will be somewhat elevated (re: writing assignments, for example) for graduate students enrolling in Bio 7980 & 7982. Graduate students must enroll in both 7980 and 7982.