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You are here: Home - Education - Bird Study

A PROGRAM FOR EDUCATORS

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Maryland Birds And Bird Habitats

Using Authentic Data to Assess Environmental Trends

For Maryland Educators

Washington College, Chestertown, MD

A Joint Program of Maryland Ornithological Society and The Washington College Center for Environment and Society

[ Program Not Offered for 2017 ]

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Careers in Bird Study

Careers in avian or bird study span a wide variety of responsibilities. Check the table below for representative examples. Job title, experience needed and position locale are listed for each. Some require more education than others, and some will expose you to the great outdoors, while others are conducted indoors. The large number of choices ensures that just about anyone can find a career suited to his or her needs and abilities. Many careers require a background in biology with additional specialization. Although few colleges and universities actually offer comprehenisve ornithological specialties (Louisiana State and Cornell Universities come immediately to mind), specialized coursework in bird study is possible at any university where there are professors willing to teach it. So, if you are interested in the field, consider discussing your plans with a member of the biology department at those schools that you might like to attend.

You can also find additional resources on the World Wide Web:

How to become an ornithologist
An inventory of available jobs in the field

Many members of MOS work in the fields listed below and we may be able to put you in touch with someone who can advise you further. Send a note to the Webmaster if you are interested.


PROFESSIONAL

TITLE

MINIMUM

EXPERIENCE

LOCATIONS FOR JOBS AND

RESPONSIBILITIES WITH BIRDS

 

 

 

ORNITHOLOGIST

MS or PhD in biology with specialization in birds

?       University professor

?       Federal or state wildlife researcher

?       Specialist for a non-profit research

organization (e.g., Cornell Lab)

?       Museum curator or specialist

?     Teach ornithology and biology classes

?     Record bird songs and calls to study how

birds identify themselves to members of

their own species and what they are

communicating

?     Observe bird behaviors to study what

strategies different species use to get food,

avoid predators and reproduce

?     Map the range of birds to better understand

their local and worldwide distribution

?     Study the behavior of birds to better

understand the habitat size and conditions

that they need to survive

?     Monitor bird population size and breeding

success

?     Track bird migration using radar detection

?     Band birds to study migration, population

numbers and longevity

?     Study bird diseases like pox, malaria, and

conjunctivitis to better understand why

birds get them and what effect they have

on bird populations

?     Study the evolution and ecological history of

bird families to understand: 1) how

species are formed, 2) why some species

can be found in certain areas and not in

others and 3) how it is that so many

different species of birds can live together

in some areas

?     Identify which birds hit airplanes and study

the flight patterns of birds

AVICULTURIST

BS, MS, or PhD with specialization in birds or veterinary sciences

?       Zoo curator or exhibit caretaker

?       Cage bird breeder

?     Create and maintain a safe and healthy

environment for captive birds

?     Carefully monitor and regulate the diet of

captive birds

?     Create and regulate captive breeding

opportunities

ARTIST/ILLUSTRATOR

BS or MS with specialization in art and biology

?       Staff artist for a museum or institution

?       Freelance artist who contracts work with

organizations, institutions, and book

authors

?     Illustrate birds for identification books or

posters

?     Illustrate bird behavior or internal anatomy

for scientific publication

CONSERVATION BIOLOGIST

MS or PhD in biology with specialization in ecology, population biology, historical ecology/evolution and public policy

?       University professor

?       Federal or state wildlife researcher

?       Specialist for a non-profit research

organization (e.g., Cornell Lab)

?     Study the sensitivity of birds to changes in

their environment (such as pesticides,

chemicals, and shrinking habitat)

?     Study the effects of introduced species of

plants and animals on birds and suggest

methods of prevention and control

?     Educate the public about habitat loss and risk

factors for birds

?     Lobby for legislation which protects birds,

endangered species and their habitats

ECOLOGIST

MS or PhD in biology with specialization in ecology

?       University professor

?       Federal or state wildlife researcher

?       Specialist for a non-profit research

?       organization (e.g., Cornell Lab)

?       Specialist for a private consulting company

?     Identify particular habitats and ecosystems

and their important components

?     Study the interaction of birds and other

organisms in the ecosystem and how

changes in one species (like a sport fish)

affects others (like a pelican)

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR

BS or MS in education with specialization in English and biology

?       Public or private school teacher

?       Educator for a nature center or non-profit

organization

?     Educate students about how the sciences of

chemistry, physics, and biology works

together to shape the world around us

?     Teach at science centers, nature

interpretive centers, outdoor education

schools or in informal circumstances such

as on a field trip in a marsh

?     Develop curriculum and teaching plans that

will help other teachers in other schools

better relate the subject to their students

NATURAL HISTORY WRITER

BS or MS with specialization in English and biology

?       Editor for a science or nature book publisher

?       Author of field guides and natural history

books

?       Newspaper or magazine columnist

?       Photographer who writes articles to

accompany nature photographs

?     Write articles about popular birding areas,

recent birding adventures, or natural

history that the public may not know

?     Write articles relating scientific subjects to

the general public

PARK RANGER

BS or MS with specialization in law enforcement and wildlife management

?       Federal or state park ranger

?     Educate the public about the value of

wildlife, the appropriate use of land, and

the importance of local history

?     Enforce laws regarding the use of park

lands and of wildlife

SYSTEMETIST

PhD in biology with

specialization in evolution and molecular techniques

?       University professor

?       Museum curator or specialist

?     Study the relationships and evolutionary

history of bird species based on their

DNA and their morphology

?     Arrange collecting trips to remote locations

to collect and prepare specimens or blood

samples for scientific study

?     Organize, maintain and manage scientific

collections of specimens from around the

world

 

WILDLIFE MANAGER

BS or MS with specialization in wildlife management

?       Federal or state park wildlife manager

?       Non-profit organization wildlife manager

?     Translate and apply scientific knowledge

to the planning and direction of wildlife

management areas

?     Monitor populations of game species to

adjust hunting regulations

?     Educate the public about the value of

wildlife and the land that they live on

WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR

 

BS with specialization in birds or veterinary sciences

?       Rehabilitator for local animal shelters

?     Create and maintain a safe and healthy

environment for sick and injured birds

?     Create and control

TOUR LEADER

A BS in biology or one of the zoological sciences is a plus. Requires experience identifying birds by both sight and sound and enthusiasm for sharing your knowledge with others

?       Bird specialist for an eco-tourism company

?       Speaker and trip leader for a tour ship

company

?     Identify birds on tourist hikes in the United

States or on tourism trips to exotic places

across the world

ZOOLOGIST

MS or PhD with specialization in zoology

?       University professor

?       Museum curator or specialist

?     Study the physical and physiological

properties that define the group Aves and

that set it apart from other animals