Basic Ornithology

This website hosts a series of educational videos covering a wide range of topics on ornithological research and conservation. These lectures were recorded as part of a course entitled Basic Ornithology: Research and Conservation conducted in December 2019 at IISER Tirupati, India.

The aim of this repository of lectures is to educate and encourage students to pursue a career in ornithological research and conservation. It covers major topics in biology (eg anatomy, evolution, behaviour, populations), field and laboratory techniques, as well as research concepts and study design.

If you find these videos helpful, please drop us a line! Contact details are at the bottom of this page.

Captions are available for all videos. Please switch them on in your settings.

Biology

Why Study Birds?

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Talk by Suhel Quader

Learn about the historical, cultural, and ecological reasons why birds are interesting and important subjects of study.

Avian Diversity and Classification

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Talk by Anand Krishnan

Discover how important avian taxonomy is to ornithological research and the potential pitfalls in the misclassification of birds.

Evolution and Speciation

Talk by Anand Krishnan

Learn about the origin and speciation of birds, and their evolution into the diversity of species we see today.

Morphology: Feathers, Plumage and Flight

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Talk by Ashwin Viswanathan

Delve into the details of complex feather structures, plumage pigmentation, and the dynamics of avian flight with an in-depth look at a bird’s external morphology.

Avian Anatomy and Physiology

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Talk by Anand Krishnan

Find out about the intricacies of birds’ skeletons, beaks, wings – along with the physiological functions that help them survive in a variety of habitats and occupy different niches.

Life Histories

Talk by Mousumi Ghosh

Learn about the life history strategies that birds have to survive and reproduce.

Foraging Behaviour

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Talk by Mousumi Ghosh

Learn about how birds feed, what strategies they use to acquire food, and what interactions exist between their foraging behaviour and the environment they occupy.

Mating and Breeding Behaviour

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Talk by Suhel Quader

Birds have some of the most fascinating, complex, and varied mating systems among vertebrates – learn about them, and how they evolved.

Social and Vocal Behaviour

Talk by V. V. Robin

Birds don’t use only songs or calls exclusively – find out how they have adapted various processes to use acoustics to their benefit in their social structures for a range of needs.

Migration

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Talk by Ashwin Viswanathan

Learn about why and how birds migrate, the challenges they face in an ever-changing world.

Bird Populations

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Talk by Mousumi Ghosh

Understand bird population densities, survival and trends along with the basics of the mathematical models used to understand patterns and processes underlying population dynamics.

Bird Communities

Talk by Umesh Srinivasan

Learn about how bird communities are formed, how niches are filled, and how birds of different guilds are vital in fulfilling the ecological roles in an ecosystem.

Biogeography

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Talk by Umesh Srinivasan

Learn about the role geography plays in determining how far species can disperse and how it influences species diversity at a location.

Macroecology

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Talk by Umesh Srinivasan

Learn about the environmental factors that influence the abundance and distribution of birds at large spatial scales.

Bird Conservation

Talk by Umesh Srinivasan & Mousumi Ghosh

An introduction to bird conservation using South Asian vulture declines as a case study.

Techniques

Bioacoustics and Laboratory Techniques

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Talk by V. V. Robin

Learn about the field techniques used to record bird sounds as well as an assortment of laboratory techniques in ornithology.

Studying Communities and Populations

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Talk by Umesh Srinivasan

Learn about the basic techniques behind surveying bird populations and communities and develop an understanding of how to calculate population estimates.

Capturing and Tagging of Birds

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Talk by Umesh Srinivasan

Learn about the importance of being able to uniquely identify individual birds and track their global or local movements as well as derive important demographic parameters like survival and reproduction.

Techniques for Studying Behaviour

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Talk by Mousumi Ghosh

Learn about the techniques used to conduct observational studies of bird behaviour.

Methods of Science

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Talk by Suhel Quader

Understand the steps taken to design an ornithological study and how to follow through on conducting good science while avoiding common pitfalls.

Posing Research Questions

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Talk by Suhel Quader

Understand how the research cycle works and the step-by-step techniques which can be used to frame pertinent research questions in ornithology.

Research Design

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Talk by Suhel Quader

Learn about the importance of designing an ornithological research project – what you need to do to ensure replicability of your work, and how to address the purpose of your research.

acknowledgements

With grateful thanks to Ashwin Warudkar, Chiti Aravind, Jobin Varughese, K.L. Vinay, Naman Goyal, Raja Bandi, Ritobroto Chanda and Varun Kher for their help with the course; and to Abbie Wakelin for transcribing the lectures to enable captions on the videos. The illustration and design are thanks to Adira Andlay. The Course Coordinator was Rohan Menzies.

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