I knew my senior year of college was going to be spent more outside than in. I am a wildlife freak- I grew up in nature, I breathe nature, I dream nature. The last three years of my college experience has been spent on memorizing and theorizing and calculating every part of the scientific world: physics, calculus, general chemistry, ORGANIC chemistry, general biology. I had no idea this major would be so intense and tough starting out, and after experiencing every part of the hard sciences, I know more than ever that being part of the earth and focusing every part of my creative and constructive energy on it is all I still want to do with my life. My classes this fall quarter of my senior year have me spending a lot of time outside, learning a lot about the natural world around me. One of these is my Bios 471 Ornithology class, in which I will be spending a lot of time on field trips observing the birds I am studying. My adventures on these trips will be documented here.
My first experience with conservation work began over this last summer of 2010, when I started a biological internship with Kelly Williams-Seig, a graduate student working for Dr. Miles. I had to stay in Athens, Ohio for the summer in order to study Organic Chemistry, so I was thankful to find this internship opportunity only an hour’s drive away. I worked with my fellow Wildlife Biologist student and good friend Joshua Philips- a partnership I learned a lot from due his advanced knowledge of the local tree and shrubs of south eastern Ohio. Our task was to help Kelly with her study of birds, particularly various warblers which nested in the area. For her study, Kelly needed to know information on the nesting habits and surrounding environment in which they nested. She found and plotted many nests in three different habitats: the control, the burn, and the thin. Also, many territories of the birds were recorded around Tar Hollow. Our job was to measure out an 11M and 5M circle around these points, and count the trees within the 11M circle and all the young trees and shrubs within the 5M. This information was recorded and would hopefully reveal information on the types of environments the birds liked to nest and spend time in.
I also met and worked with a fellow student at Ohio University, an individual named Clayton Blackston who I got to know very well though walking the area and recording plants; as well as a man named Randy Lakes, who drove down every Saturday from Cincinnati in order to help Kelly with her research. The four of us met every weekend measure the bird’s natural environment, including tree coverage, light readings, highest canopy point, and the type of vegetation around. Whilst working over the 11 weeks, I had ample time to bird watch, and saw many of the birds whose nests we were monitoring. Clayton also would often chime in information about the birds, including what each one looked like and which birds had what call. One of my favorite calls was one in which Clayton explained how the Eastern Towhee says “Drink, your teeeeeea” in its chirping song.
The highlight of the trip came about when Kelly saw a baby bird on Saturday morning when we were about to mark and gather data on one of the nests. The bird was a hooded warbler, and it needed to be banded with a number for the study. This would be my first time witnessing bird banding done live in the field, and I was very intrigued. She let me handle the baby bird as she gathered the equipment needed and seized out the right band for the baby bird’s leg, and I got to see such a bird up-close for the first time since I was a young kid. The Bird didn’t panic much, and it was banded and back in it’s nest within 5 minutes.