Field Ornithology

Course Dates

27 May to 10 June, 2024


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 2024.

Course Description

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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 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)



Course Numbers

Cornell: BIOSM 3740 (3 Credits)

UNH: MEFB 510 (4 Credits)

Sample Syllabus

Tuition & Fees

Financial Support


Dr. Kristen Covino

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Dr. Covino is an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Loyola University. She is an avian biologist and ecophysiologist interested in songbird migration, physiology, endocrinology, and ecology.


Dr. Shailee Shaw

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Dr. Shah is an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She is a behavioral ecologist and population geneticist interested in the evolution of sociality as well as the consequent impact of sociality on evolutionary processes. Her primary study species is the superb starling, found in East Africa, but she has also worked on Florida Scrub-jays, fairy-wrens, and Herring Gulls (at Shoals!).


Additional Resources