Our summer crews studying grassland birds spend most days outdoors, see every sunrise, and sometimes, get bird songs stuck in our heads. Alice was inspired to write the music in this video by Eastern Meadowlark songs. She and her band STEAM! recorded the tune (“Tallgrass”) then selected some of the best photos taken by Sarah Winnicki and others to visualize the inspiration for this music. Explore our other videos on YouTube!
Critters of Costa Rica
A lot of people who visit tropical countries are overwhelmed by all the GREEN! Because we are out in the forest day-in, day-out, we end up seeing some amazing critters and some pretty cool plants and fungi too. Here are some of the highlights… tapirs, sloths, frogs, fascinating insects, and more!
We have more photo albums from Kansas and the tropics to view on Flickr!
Articles, podcasts, and blog posts about what we do and why we do it
Listen to this radio story on our Virtual Fence project. We are controlling cattle movements to create the habitat we know threatened grassland birds depend upon and minimize damage to streams. This is a collaboration with the Mushrush ranch, the National Parks Service, and the Nature Conservancy, and we are all hopeful that this is a win-win option that meets both ranching and conservation needs.
Read this article from our local paper, the Manhattan Mercury that describes the long-term bird monitoring we do at the Konza Prairie, and the training opportunities this provides for K-State students.
Former grad student Emily Williams on The Prairie Naturalist, explaining how Grasshopper Sparrows move around within breeding seasons, how we study them, and why this matters for grassland bird conservation. Listen to the whole episode, or jump right to Emily’s interview:
Read this guest blog post at “American Ornithology Pubs” that talks about her recent paper that sums up information on all the birds that migrate up and down mountains in North America and tries to understand why this topic has been so neglected by ornithologists. She also explains the background on her fascination with bird movements and how she got inspired to be a scientist.
Ever wondered what it is like to do field research in the tropics? These 2 guest blog posts from “Dispatches from the Field” (Dispatches from the Jungle, part 1 and part 2) describe a particularly intense couple of months back during Alice’s PhD research in Costa Rica.
Our very own Konza sparrows featured in Birding Magazine! Writer Saraiya Kanning visited us during the field season in 2016, then wrote this great article about our birds, our work, and the prairies we love. It was published in the Feb 2017 issue.
Science Magazine’s ScienceNOW article about some of our research on why birds migrate up and down mountains each year in tropical regions.
Listen to these two podcast from Quirks and Quarks, (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s national radio science program). The first..
…is an interview with Alice from Apr 2010.
… is a follow-up the next year after some new results completed the story.
In-person presentations for schools and community groups
Are you a teacher looking for fun ways to introduce your students to birds, how science works, women doing field biology, tropical rainforests, or grassland ecology and conservation?
We have developed several activities for younger audiences that we’d love to share with your students. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, contact us!
Birds are all around us. Once we start seeing them, they are the most accessible way to start appreciating the nature that surrounds us daily. This workshop teaches some basics of what and how to look for birds, with a short outdoor field trip.
Ages: middle-school to high school
Best group size/event type: 10-20 students, combination indoor/outdoor workshop
This informal workshop is flexible in duration and introduces students to some non-stereotypical activities that biologists engage in, and feature non-stereotypical role models. The workshop features a very brief presentation with plenty of structured Q & A time.
Ages: elementary school to high school
Best group size/event type: up to ~25 students, good for class-room style workshop
This table-top game-type activity was designed by Mark Herse and has been popular with all age groups. It is designed to introduce the concepts of habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, species conservation, and the difficult balance between meeting increasing human needs and protecting animals with a variety of different needs.
Ages: toddlers to seniors
Best group size/event type: good for open-house type interactions (up to ~6 at a time)
This activity is designed as a ~1 hr long workshop with multiple components that build concepts and knowledge sequentially. Students learn about mating behavior, Greater Prairie-chickens, and tropical forest birds. Students watch short video clips of different species and collect information from them on worksheets.
Ages: middle-school to high school
Best group size/event type: 10-20 students, good for class-room style workshop
Are you looking for speakers for your community event? your naturalist group meeting?
We give informal talks that always tell a clear story in understandable terms, and are accompanied by great images and often, engaging video footage. Here is a sampling of some talks we have ready-to-go.
Presentation originally created for the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita; watch the talk here or invite me to tailor a talk for your group.
The amazing little tropical birds called manakins are textbook examples of how competition among males for the attentions of the ladies can lead to a rainbow of plumage colors and dancing displays that seem to defy the laws of physics. In this media-rich presentation, we take you on a tour of some of the most remarkable aspects of this family of birds, explore how these traits evolved, and then explain why food and weather have contributed to the evolution of displays, and at the same time, constrain those behaviors in other ways.
This talk tells the story of why tropical birds migrate up and down mountains every year using the metaphor of a murder mystery. While presenting the results of real research, we do so in a light-hearted framework, and at the same time, demonstrate how the scientific method works in real-life situations.
Is there something you’d like us to present on that you don’t see here? We can prepare a new talk especially for you!