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Smithsonian Scientist Shares Research on Island Songbirds

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Date: February 25, 2014
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

Ventura, CA — On March 12, 2014, Channel Islands National Park will host a special lecture about island songbirds by Smithsonian biologist Scott Sillett.

Sillett will describe why the California Channel Islands are one of the best places in the world to investigate ecology and evolution and will share his studies of songbirds including orange-crowned warblers, song sparrows, and island scrub-jays. 

His research has found intriguing adaptations of songbirds to the island environments. For example, island scrub-jays in pine woodland habitats on Santa Cruz Island have longer bills and are genetically distinct from jays less than a mile away in adjacent oak chaparral. 

These studies are also shedding light on the social dynamics, food habits, movements, habitat requirements, and population structure of these species and will help in conservation efforts over the coming decades as the climate in southern California changes. 

Sillett has conducted long-term studies of bird populations across the United States. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Arizona, his master's at Louisiana State University, and his PhD at Dartmouth College. His work on the Channel Islands over the past decade is providing insights into the ecological connections between birds, habitat, historical land uses, and the biogeography of the islands. 

The talk will be held on March 12, 2014. The From Shore to Sea lecture series is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding marine waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 pm on the second Wednesday of March, April, May, September, October, and November at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.  

Did You Know?

Brown pelican on nest

The Channel Islands are home to the largest breeding colonies of seabirds in southern California.