A Window into the Study of Birds

Ornithology represents the efforts of a diverse team of editors and chapter authors who span a wide range of expertise and career stages. Our goal was to provide material written by leading experts in each subject area who would provide the latest information on research and applications in ornithology. Our team of chapter authors includes scientists from six different countries, all of whom frequently engage with students, teach and/or have taught ornithology, and have active research programs.

While the textbook is intended for undergraduate and graduate students, it is also written to be useful for professionals who are experts in one or a few subject areas (e.g., ecology and behavior) and who want to expand the breadth of their knowledge (e.g., anatomy and physiology).

Each chapter integrates both historical and contemporary perspectives so that readers can appreciate how our understanding of each subject area has developed over time. We emphasize how the diversity of ornithological research reflects not only innovation in methodological approaches and tools, but also maturation of our ideas and the guiding paradigms that shape how we frame questions and interpret data. Our intent is that each chapter will help the reader come away with an awareness of the relevant foundational ideas and emerging topics in that subject area. As such, each chapter provides a window into the dynamic field of ornithology that can serve as a starting point from which topics can be more deeply explored.

We assembled the chapters into seven sections to help readers, students, and instructors move through the material in an organized manner. Knowing that many readers will be early in their academic and professional careers, we specifically included a chapter that introduces readers to the ornithological profession, highlighting examples from different career tracks. We also incorporated “Bio Boxes” into each chapter that highlight and personalize some of the contributions of ornithologists in order to acquaint students with some of the people responsible for the discoveries cited in the book. To facilitate understanding and recollection, each chapter ends with a summary of the material covered, a discussion of potential management and conservation applications, and several suggested study questions.

Michael L. Morrison is a professor at Texas A&M University, where he is the Caesar Kleberg Chair of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. He is co-author of Ornithology.