The Wilson Ornithological Society

Manual of Field and Laboratory Exercises
for Ornithology

Manual de Ejercicios de Campo y Laboratorio para Ornitología (en Español)

Edited by: Edward H. Burtt, Jr.
Department of Zoology, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH 43105-2370



Measurements of an Airfoil

William H. Barnard

Avian Censusing

Edward H. Burtt, Jr.

Natural Variation

Edward H. Burtt, Jr.

Forensic Ornithology

Carla J. Dove


Mildred Sears Funk

Recording Bird Sounds

Sylvia L. Halkin & |
W. Herbert Wilson

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


The exercises included in this manual are the product 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 on line 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.


I am indebted to the authors of the following exercises for their generosity in sharing their teaching ideas with the community of ornithologists. I know that they have spent long hours developing, testing and revising their contributions. My thanks also to the Wilson Ornithological Society, particularly Ernest J. Willoughby and W. Herbert Wilson, successive chairs of the Education Committee for encouraging a different kind of workshop and then providing the encouragement to compile, edit and place the exercises on the Wilson Ornithological Society webpage where it would be widely accessible. Janet Hinshaw and Robert Curry provided guidance in moving the manuscript from my computer onto the web. I am also indebted to Ellen Paul, the Ornithological Council and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for the financial backing to have the manual translated into Spanish and printed for distribution in Latin America. I and the authors are indebted to John C. Kricher, Robert W. Storer, Peter Stettenheim, Frank B.Gill, Millicent S. Ficken, Glen E. Woolfenden, Nick L. Rodenhouse, Nathaniel T. Wheelwright, W. Herbert Wilson, and Robert Colburn who read one or more exercises and contributed their thoughts to the development of the manual. The compilation and editing of the exercises were done while a visiting scholar at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. I thank Doug Causey, my generous host at Harvard, and Ohio Wesleyan University for providing me with a leave from teaching to complete the manual.

Finally, to all who will use the exercises and offer suggestions, thank you. Your suggestions will be gratefully accepted and lead to the continued improvement in what I hope will become a community effort to enhance ornithological education.

Edward H. Burtt, Jr.
15 November 2002

©2007 Wilson Ornithological Society
Page last updated: Tue, Jul 31, 2007
Contact Web coordinator

DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript