What’s So Amazing About Birds?


Dr. Allison Shultz is an evolutionary biologist, Assistant Curator of Ornithology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, Visiting Professor at the University of Southern California, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at San Diego State University. She integrates research across timescales to gain an understanding of the processes that produce patterns of biodiversity. Dr. Shultz is an elective member of the American Ornithological Society, and has received a number of awards and fellowships, including a certificate of distinction in teaching for her work as a teaching fellow at Harvard University.


Amazing Birds

Birds have fascinated humans throughout history – even today in the United States alone, over 45 million people are bird-watchers. But what makes these feathered friends so interesting – that is, what makes a bird a bird, and how have they adapted to some of the most diverse regions around the world? How do birds sense the environment around them and how do they navigate the globe? Join ornithologist and curator Dr. Allison Shultz to delve into the biology of the over 10,000 species of modern-day dinosaurs that surround us – birds.

Amazing Facts About Birds

Birds are widespread and familiar creatures–there are about 10,000 species on planet Earth! They are, perhaps, the vertebrates we are most familiar with in our day-to-day lives, and we have been fascinated by them for centuries. Pigeons and house sparrows join us in cities, while chickadees and other forest species make their homes in our backyards. Birds can tell us a lot about the natural world, and about the impact that humans are having on the planet. This lecture will begin by exploring what makes a bird a bird (Where did birds come from?), and will dive into the amazing things we are learning by studying them. We’ll explore the worlds of birds, from biological diversity to the impacts that anthropogenic changes are having on where animals live and how they interact.

Discussion Questions:


  1. What species of birds have you seen lately? Have you noticed any changing trends in the birds that you see regularly, where you see them, or when you see them?
  1. Reflect on different areas that you have traveled to. Have you ever noticed any differences in the local bird communities in these different areas? You can think about differences in species, plumage colors, behaviors, or other life-history differences. Why do you think these differences exist?
  1. What aspect of bird biology do you find the most interesting?

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