Speakers – Friday

Bruce Lyon - Friday Afternoon Presentation

Topic: Reconsider the Coot: the Crazy Reproductive Antics of a Common Marsh Denizen

Friday, September 23, 2016, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Coots are often overlooked by birders because they are so common. I have been studying the reproductive antics of American coots for the past two decades and have discovered that there is far more to this bird than meets the eye. In the talk I highlight some of our discoveries about the parental and reproductive strategies of coots, from both a natural history and scientific perspective. We all are familiar with the story of the cuckoo female that lays eggs in the nests of other species rather than raising chicks herself. Some coot females do this sort of thing, but they lay their eggs in the nests of other coot females. Why would they do this — why lay eggs elsewhere when you have your own nest? What do the birds that receive these unwanted foster eggs do? Coots are just as bizarre when it comes to raising their own kids, and there are many puzzling features of coot parental care behavior. For example, why do coots lay far more eggs than they can normally raise and why do they beat up their kids so much? And, finally, why are baby coots born with such a ridiculously fluorescent orange plumage? I will answer these questions in my talk. In addition, because our coot research was done in a wild part of central British Columbia I will also briefly highlight a few of the special birds we encounter at our study site.  
Download/Print a copy of Bruce Lyon's Coot Talk:

Bruce Lyon Coot Talk Handout (2.6 MiB)

  BL-Headshot-o Bruce Lyon is a professor of Evolutionary Ecology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research focuses on the evolution of reproductive strategies and mating behavior of birds. His long-term research on the adaptive basis of brood parasitism in American coots has sought to understand why parasitism within species evolves and how the behavior influences other aspects of social behavior. Dr. Lyon has also investigated the evolution of ornamental plumage signals in a variety of species, including lark buntings, lazuli buntings and the evolution of ornamental offspring plumage in the newly hatched chicks of American coots. Most recently, he has conducted a decade long investigation into the winter social lives of migrant golden-crowned sparrows that spent their winters on the Arboretum of the University of California, Santa Cruz.  

Alvaro Jaramillo - Friday Evening Presentation

Topic: Birding the Blob: Effects of Weird Warm Weather and the Drought on Birds

Friday, September 23, 2016, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Weird things have been happening on the ocean and on land in the recent past with respect to California's birdlife. We have been living through a drought, and we have also had some amazingly unusual warm water offshore, that has been termed "the Blob." The blob is as ominous as it sounds, and exciting all at the same time. The bird life is reacting to differences in climate, and incredibly quickly. Is this good, bad? What is it? We may be in a time of transition, and for the naturalist it can be interesting as new and different species are appearing, formerly rare birds are becoming common even. It may not last, and we may look at this as a "blip" in time. Perhaps. Weird causes worry, but it also causes the birder to wonder about how exactly things work, what discoveries are there to be made and what unexpected birds and other creatures may pop up in weird times. This will be a trip through some of the effects and oddities of our time in the blob, the excitement of watching nature adapt and also a nice little background of what makes Monterey Bay, and central California an incredibly special place to watch birds. AJ-Alvaro-on-boat-o2 Alvaro Jaramillo, owner of Alvaro’s Adventures, was born in Chile but began birding in Toronto, where he lived as a youth. He was trained in ecology and evolution with a particular interest in bird behavior. Research forays and backpacking trips introduced Alvaro to the riches of the Neotropics, where he has traveled extensively. He is the author of the Birds of Chile, an authoritative yet portable field guide to Chile’s birds. Alvaro writes the Identify Yourself column in Bird Watcher’s Digest. Alvaro recently wrote part of the sparrow chapter for the Handbook of Birds of the World, and the new ABA Field Guide Birds of California. He was recently granted the Eisenmann Medal by the Linnean Society of New York, it is awarded occasionally for excellence in ornithology and encouragement of the amateur. Alvaro lives with his family in Half Moon Bay, California.    
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