Sara Kaiser: The idea was to have a place where undergraduates could go to have a field immersive experience. There really hasn't been anything like that at the Lab. So, we realized that there was a really good opportunity to connect with this place that had been doing bird research for about fifty years.
TITLE: Hubbard Brook Field Ornithology Program
TITLE: The Living Classroom
Sara Kaiser: The Hubbard Brook Field Ornithology Program is a year-long program, but it can be more depending on the student's goals. The students really come here to do original research. There's a lot for them to focus on although most of the students focus on the Black-throated blue warblers. They have a very stable population and are throughout the valley.
Sara Kaiser: So, they come to work with me and narrow down their focus until we can really sort of figure out what they're most interested in and how they could plug in.
TITLE: Sara Kaiser Director, Hubbard Brook Field Ornithology Program
We have this Hubbard Brook ecosystem study that started in 1963, and so we have context to everything that we do. We know what it was like decades ago, we know what it's like now, and we have data that shows what has changed. It's just this really rich place with so much knowledge.
Sara Kaiser: The students have a whole set of skills that they want to gain. And so, we focus on training them and that's very unique about this program. They learn all the basic skills that most field ornithologists would need in order to do their own research.
Amaya Bechler: For as long as I can remember, I just really love birds. I love flipping through the field guide, dreaming of all the birds that could show up in my backyard.
TITLE: Amaya Bechler, Cornell Class of '25
Amaya Bechler: When I first got here, I was mostly doing arrival surveys, just seeing where birds are when they first get on plot. And then started doing nest searching.
Sara: You could probably get at it from behind the log.
Amaya Bechler: And then recently I've also started to do some banding work, which is really exciting to me.
Amaya Bechler: So, we set up the net and the birds probably singing somewhere nearby. It's really rewarding when the bird finally hits the net. From there, we do something we call extraction which is just basically untangling that bird from those thin threads.
Sara: So why don t you go ahead and get the bands.
Amaya: Two, nine, four, zero, four, one, five, one, two. Once we have those birds in hand, we also take a lot of information.
Alicia Brunner: A little more, yeah. Love getting to see these birds super up close and get all these special measurements from them that we can't see otherwise. Get a really nice up-close view of those feathers and tell the age of the bird and everything like that. And so, each one of those measurements is going to be going to a different study, and so it's very cool to know how it might benefit these birds in the future.
Jack Hutchison: I feel like, all in all, there's a lot of skills that I've gathered here and kind of all at once. It's also in the White Mountains which are beautiful, and I love being outside.
TITLE: Jack Hutchison, Cornell Class of '23
Jack: Two, nine, four, zero. I'm deploying tags on fledglings...Black-throated blue warblers. Hey calm down. Which is kind of a demanding physiological thing. You can see the wire here.
Jack: Once they fledge, we'll be tracking them every day to see what sort of habitats they use. And see what their survivorship is, so there's a lot of predators out there, so we want to see how many of them live. No one's really studied it before, so it'll be really interesting to try and figure that out.
Jack: I don't really need this anymore because we know the fledgling is right in here. We just saw the male come in and feed it.
Eryn Woernley: Hubbard Brook definitely exceeded my expectations. I was not expecting to have this much of a diversity in the stuff we get to do.
TITLE: Eryn Woernley, Cornell Class of '24
Eryn: Fieldwork-wise Jack and I are doing pretty similar stuff. But I'm looking more at fledgling/parent interactions. So, I'm going to be recording behaviors of the parents, seeing how long they're taking care of the fledglings, and how long they're feeding them and like figuring out when the fledglings become independent.
Eryn: He was only there for about two seconds which is pretty typical, they'll just go in to feed and then immediately leave to forage some more. It's all just a really fantastic experience.
Eryn: We located that one at seven forty and then immediately we can start our pred count and let everything settle in.
Lezhi Stella Hao: I wanted to apply because I know I'm really into birds from high school and I really want to do bird-related research. That's actually a part of the reason why I go to Cornell.
TITLE: Lezhi "Stella" Hao, Cornell Class of '23
Sara: So you put it in that envelope and then you need the next one.
Stella: My research is focused on studying the plumage signaling function in female Black-throated blue warblers.
Stella: Definitely more than nine. I will be looking at the sides of the wing patch on the females and the coloration of the breast feather.
Sara: The Photographer's grip is when these two fingers are almost like scissoring the legs. That's when people can, you know, take photos see how she follows me.
Stella: I had the first ever opportunity to handle a female bird in my hand.
Stella: Okay, so when I grab it, I should use the Bander's.
Sara: Yes, your hand is here are going to go over her body and then you can use this finger to perch. Okay?
Stella: My hands are very cold in the morning, so when I handled the female, she feels very warm in my hand.
Sara: How does that feel?
Stella: It feels warm. Because my hands are cold.
Stella: And she is like looking at me very nervously and I am also looking at her very nervously.
Sara: You want to see how much it extends.
Sara: Sit like this, and you're just going to open up your hand.
Stella: We get the processing done as soon as possible and release her.
Sara: Just kind of go like this...there she goes. And there she goes, so she'll probably kind of pick at her bands a little bit, and preen, since we did bleed her.
Stella: Yeah, I'm very proud of what we did today. It was successful.
Stella: Yeah, cool, I can see her on the log now. Wow, that's super cool.
Sara Kaiser: What I love about Hubbard Brook is that it's not just you know Cornell working with Dartmouth. It's Cornell and Dartmouth working with the Forest Service and it's, you know, working with the Smithsonian and doing education outreach with the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation. There are lots of doors open to them with the kind of training that they receive here and especially, you know, having done original research and to have something tangible like a thesis that they've created, really does open a lot of doors for them.
Amaya: Hubbard Brook has already been really incredible. Ultimately, my goal as a researcher working with these birds is going to be to meaningfully make a difference for them. Whether it's preserving habitat or just better understanding their life histories, so we can target conservation in the areas that mostly matter for them. That's really important to me.
Jack: So yeah, I would definitely endorse Hubbard Brook as a place to go for your summer experience. You learn so many skills and it's just a beautiful place. You're around other awesome undergrads from both Cornell and other universities.
Eryn: Yeah, one thing that's really great about Hubbard Brooke is the diversity of skills you get so like coming here all the skills that you get are applicable to other Ornithology jobs, too. So, you can use them everywhere and also like just the community is fantastic, everyone at Hubbard Brook is so nice and very considerate.
Stella: Hubbard Brook Field Ornithology Program for me has been a very rewarding experience. I really got a lot of mentorship from Sara, the principal investigator, and I also got a lot of help from my group mates, so I'm happy that I've chosen this program.
The Hubbard Brook experience has now reached thousands around the globe, changing lives, reshaping science, and protecting birds and their habitats. -Nick Rodenhouse
Credits: A production of the Center for Conservation Media LOGO: Cornell Lab