Field Ornithology

Course Dates

May 23, 2022 to June 6, 2022


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.
ALL STUDENTS: See the Financial Support & Scholarships page for details about a course-specific award which can be applied towards the cost of enrolling in Field Ornithology and other select SML courses for summer 2022.
There is an additional need-based scholarship available for Cornell students enrolling in Field Ornithology.

Course Description

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


UNH Open Aquaculture Sustainable Fisheries at-sea



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. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." - Emily Waldman (SML' 15, Cornell '16)


Dr. Kristen Covino:

Assistant Professor, Biology Department, Loyola Marymount University

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. Dr. Covino is currently an Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where she leads her PHAB Lab studying Physiology, Hormones, and Avian Biology with undergraduate collaborators. 

Mary Elizabeth Everett:

Mary Everett has been working with the long-term "Gulls of Appledore" banding & research project since 2015. In 2017, she and Dr. Sarah Courchesne took over the project from founder Dr. Julie Ellis. Mary’s research interests are primarily in mapping and geospatial statistics; she will be starting her MS in GIS in 2020. She currently holds degrees in Biology and Environmental Science, and is an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina.

Additional Resources

  • Appledore Island gull population research was featured in Living Bird magazine, summer 2016 issue.
  • Check out this Shoals flickr set, taken by student Mitch Walters during Field Ornithology 2009.
  • Read about UNH alumni, Justin Stilwell '11 and Lindsay Moulton '15, studying the gulls of Appledore Island

Course Video



Course Numbers

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