Field Ornithology

Course Dates

May 24, 2019 to June 7, 2019


One semester of college-level biology or equivalent; background in ornithology or vertebrate biology is recommended, but not required.

Equivalent Note

Cornell students: Biology & Society majors, this course fulfills the (II) Foundation Courses > (C) Biology Foundation > Biological Diversity requirement.

Course Description

Field Ornithology 2015

Explore the diverse and abundant seabirds and migratory songbirds of the Isles of Shoals as you gain an understanding of avian ecology, anatomy, physiology, and behavior. Students share the island with nesting Common Eiders, Herring Gulls, and Great Black-backed Gulls. Compile a species list during the course of some 100+ different species often observed during the 2 week course! Field techniques include field identification, bird banding, and various census methods. Students will spend time each day at the Appledore Island Migration Banding Station and visit the Tern Conservation Program on White & Seavey Islands.

Students taking this course will:

  • Be able to identify songbirds and seabirds living and migrating through the Isles of Shoals;
  • Learn common ornithological field methods (e.g., bird banding, point counts, nest monitoring, etc.);
  • Understand the conservation challenges facing bird populations

Internship opportunities: This course is recommended experience for SML's Seabirds & Plastic Pollution Internship and Gull Population Biology Internship.

"I was fascinated by birds from an extremely young age, but unable to adequately pursue my passion until I took this class...I have never been so excited to step onto an island in my life, nor so unhappy to leave one. I am so glad i had this once-in-lifetime chance to attend a class..." - Emily Waldman (SML' 15, Cornell '16)


Dr. Kristen Covino:

Post-doctoral fellow, Biology Department, Canisius College

Dr. Covino has been a part of ornithological research on Appledore Island since 2003 when she began volunteering at the Appledore Island Migration Station (AIMS). She has returned to Appledore Island nearly every year since then while conducting her undergraduate, Master’s thesis and PhD thesis research on migratory songbirds. Recently, Dr. Covino was elected to the Wilson Ornithological Society council.

Field Ornithology students can find additional course information on Dr. Kovino's personal webpage:

David Bonter and students
Photo by Sarah MacLean.

Course Video



Course Numbers

Cornell: BIOSM 3740 (3 Credits)
UNH: MEFB 510 (4 Credits)