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
Weather the Storm
Post-doc Koley FreemanKoley Freeman wrote this informative and engaging article in Prairie Wings, a magazine published by Audubon of Kansas. She writes about our work with grassland birds and the consequences of weather for their ongoing survival in the region.
How satellite-guided cows might save the Kansas prairie and make ranchers more money
Listen to this radio story on our Virtual Fence project. Remote-controlled cattle will create the habitat for threatened grassland birds and minimize damage to streams! (we hope). Hopefully this is a win-win option that meets both ranching and conservation needs.
Netting results: Research program aims to learn more about birds’ reaction to climate
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.
The Prairie Naturalist: unexpected sparrow movements
4Former 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:
Rainy days stress out birds
Science Magazine’s ScienceNOW article about some of our research on why birds migrate up and down mountains each year in tropical regions.
Winging in the Rain
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.
Fire, Bison, and a Little Brown Job
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.
Dispatches from the Jungle
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.
A New Look at Altitudinal Migration
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.
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!
Wonderful world of birds (in your backyard)
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
Want to be a biologist?
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
Animals in fragmented prairies
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)
Birds of a feather moonwalk together
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.
Kansas flyways: the current and future of understanding birds’ movements
We live in a GREAT place to study all kinds of birds’ movements! This talk explores those patterns and discusses the next steps to filling our knowledge gaps, in particular discussing the new Kansas Motus initiative.
Sex, fruit, and rock ‘n roll: how manakins became the tropics’ dance idols
A fun, multi-media-filled tour of our favorite tropical birds: manakins. We tell the story of how what they eat, and how they raise their babies may have led to some pretty spectacular dances and outfits.
Clue in the stormy jungle
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.
A prairie bird’s love-hate relationship with humans
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.
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!