I began my interest in birds almost as soon as I could look through binoculars. I came to OSU from California (Sacramento and Monterey) with a passion for identifying, watching and learning about birds and ornithology. Taking classes at OSU and participating in research opportunities began what has been decade of wonderful experiences and relationships with members of the OSU faculty, graduate students, and community members. From being in on the ground floor of the “Bird Nerds” ,a student organization dedicated to bird watching, research, and conservation, to participating in the Oregon 2020 project state-wide bird surveys, to helping with long billed curlew surveys and expanding my community involvement with the local Audubon Society chapter, OSU has enriched my life and provided the platform for me to contribute to the important work of expanding our knowledge of birds and conserving and preserving the environment. Couldn’t be happier by going to OSU, and the wonderful connections I’ve made in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department.
"Corvallis is a great place to live because the smaller campus, variety of fun and interesting restaurants and activities, and students from all over the world make it a very easy place to make new friends and grow as both a student and as a person. You can walk or bike almost anywhere in town, and there are several parks, natural areas, and wildlife refuges nearby where you may escape for a while to enjoy nature and wildlife, especially birds! It is also in a wonderfully close location to the Coast and Coast Range, and is close enough to the Cascades for day-trips; I was able to go snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor or on Mt. Hood almost once every week during the winters!"
At OSU I found community. Here was a group of people who were passionate about birds, dedicated to science, and committed to conservation. These were things I had always valued but didn't always see reflected around me. They were things I had always wanted to pursue, but never knew where to start. When I came to OSU I discovered a family of scientists and students who cared, and I immediately felt like I belonged.
When I first came to OSU, I wasn't completely sure of what I wanted to study. After just several weeks I was convinced to change my major to Wildlife Science with an emphasis on ornithology. There were multiple factors that nudged me toward the Fisheries and Wildlife department. Among those factors, were the people involved with the program and the community, the opportunities available, and the abundance of birding hot spots near OSU. The faculty of the Fisheries and Wildlife Department, along with other community birders, welcome any and all new birders to the OSU and Corvallis family. They are all incredibly welcoming, helpful, and understanding. OSU and Corvallis also offer a large quantity of ornithology-related opportunities. From Christmas Bird Counts, to local banding operations, and assisting graduate student research, the opportunities are endless. Finally, Western Oregon as a whole is home to some of the best birding on the Pacific Coast. With the amount of talented birders and presence of unique habitat diversity, Western Oregon, with OSU at its heart, is a birder's paradise. Once I saw and experienced these things first hand, I was convinced that Oregon State was the right place for my education, as well as a spring to fill my cup of avian addiction.
I was drawn to OSU by the numerous ornithological research opportunities and the emphasis on undergraduate research. The thought and ability to be involved in these research opportunities excited me upon entering OSU. Now as a senior, I have had countless valuable experiences I see myself using in my professional career as an ornithologist. Some of these experience include working in Eastern Oregon looking at the role frugivorous birds play in juniper seed dispersal in sagebrush landscapes, working in the OSU Bird Collection, conducting avian point-counts in different parts of Oregon through the Oregon 2020 project, observing tropical hummingbirds, and presenting my undergraduate research at numerous national conferences. OSU has also opened to me a network of ornithologists and rising ornithologists I can see working with on large-scale wildlife conservation issues. Lastly, I have been involved with the OSU Birds Nerds ever since my first year at OSU and have forged life-long friendships. I am excited for my future career in wildlife conservation and will be prepared for it when I graduate thanks to all the support provided by OSU and the Fisheries & Wildlife Department.
My experiences as a student and researcher at Oregon State University have been foundational to my fervent appreciation for birds as a subject of ecological study. As an undergraduate at OSU, I discovered diverse opportunities to investigate birds in multiple departments across campus. I worked as a research assistant on studies that ranged from investigating raptor predation and digestion to a statewide avian population study. Through classes and research experiences at Oregon State, I gained and refined valuable field and laboratory skills that I now use in my bird research as a graduate student. I even got to experience teaching by serving as the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for Systematics of Birds. Corvallis is a great place for a student interested in birds, being surrounded by excellent birding locations and hosting a vibrant community composed of many birders and other naturalists.
I have been a full time student at Oregon State University for just over two years after transferring from a College back East. In that time I have found the school to be an amazing resource for research opportunities, as well as professional development. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I have been able to work alongside welcoming mentors, wildlife professionals, and dedicated faculty. This subsequently led me down the path of determining what interests me most in the field of fisheries and wildlife sciences: birds! The Fisheries and Wildlife Science program provides a number of courses that expand the knowledge base of students seeking to become ornithologists. For instance, classes such as songbird banding & netting, as well as ecology of marine & estuarine birds provided me with hands on experience and a greater understanding of what it takes to work as a field ornithologist. Another course, systematics of birds, provided me with identification skills, and helped me learn effective ways to commit birdsong to memory. With this background, in the past year alone, I have been able to participate in multiple bird surveys, band and monitor Purple Martins, as well as work at a songbird banding station. I cannot emphasize enough how great it is to have taken these courses with passionate instructors at a welcoming and fun community such as OSU.
When I started at OSU, I knew absolutely no one. I had just moved to Oregon from Colorado to earn a degree in Wildlife Science, as I loved animals of all kinds and wanted to help protect them and their habitats. I was primarily interested in researching mammals, but had registered for FW 312 - Systematics of Birds out of pure curiosity. I thought it might be cool to be able to identify bird songs while hiking with friends, but wasn’t serious about birding, and wasn’t even sure if I would stay in the class or not. Little did I know, however, that this mere interest in learning bird songs would soon blossom into a fiery passion for birds, birding, and avian conservation that would take my career to heights I never knew were possible.
It is truly amazing what one may accomplish with the support of a strong community. There are so many professors and graduate students who are enthusiastic about birds and conservation, and who truly want you to succeed so that you may help make the world a better place for both birds and people. Learning networking skills is a breeze at OSU, with the many club meetings and workshops offered by the Bird Nerds student club, as well as with events like the annual Willamette Valley Bird Symposium. During my two years at OSU, I was able to gain valuable work experience by participating in a variety of avian-related research projects, including catching and banding Black-capped Chickadees, dissecting the stomachs of Barred Owls and identifying the prey species found inside, identifying species of tropical hummingbirds from trail camera footage gathered in Costa Rica, and monitoring the nest productivity of a Western Gull colony off the coast of Yachats, Oregon.
It was difficult to leave OSU once my time had come, but not too difficult. Why, you ask? Because I had a job waiting for me! Thanks to my tremendous education and the support that I received from the birding community at OSU, I was able to land a temporary Point Count Technician job my first summer after graduation, and began a full-time job in the conservation program for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife soon thereafter.