Ornithology: A bird's-eye view of scientific passion and process

I’ll always remember the scene clearly. I was seated on a cliff’s edge, surrounded by the vast blueness of the Atlantic Ocean. Above me, gulls were shrilly calling. With rhythmic precision, ocean waves delivered rushes of salty air to my face. In this moment, I knew I would forever foster an appreciation for science. More specifically, I would always appreciate any science pertaining to the study of nature and its patterns.

banding2 Taylor Crisologo

I first stumbled upon ornithology—a branch of zoology dealing with birds—the summer after my freshman year of college. Through a network of friends, I met a particularly enthusiastic professor who needed a field researcher for a summer internship. That’s how I landed in Maine (where the aforementioned scene occurred) for two consecutive summers, collecting data on the biology and behavior of the resident population of breeding gulls.

In the years since, my love for collecting detailed data to answer questions about birds and their biology has guided my migrations to several exotic places. I’ve traveled throughout the United States and to Australia’s eastern coast, New Zealand’s shores, Costa Rica’s rain forest, and the intersection between nature reserves and human settlements in the Dominican Republic—all with the intent of answering scientific questions about numerous species.

But enticing travel aside, you may be wondering: As a scientist, why choose to specialize in birds?

First, ornithology (and ecology in general) helps develop a deep appreciation for organization and attention to detail—tools that are transferable to any field. Ecology can be a messy field of study due to the heaps of data collected by scientists. Therefore, an important part of ecological training is nurturing a mastery of stacked spreadsheets and careful attention to numbers. Given my appreciation for keen detail, I was intrigued by Quartzy’s scientific-management platform. Since joining Quartzy as a Marketplace Fulfillment Associate, I’ve been surrounded by people who share a passion for ensuring that we help labs and researchers be as organized and efficient as possible.

Secondly, birds are amazing “gateway species” to open the minds and hearts of youngbird-banding-with-kids scientists. When challenged to foster an appreciation for nature and science in children, I can think of no better examples than birds to demonstrate the connection between people and science. Of all the demonstrations I’ve led (both avian and non-avian) for young groups, none has had more impact than the “oohs” and “aahs” of seeing a live bird in someone’s hand while learning about its biology and conservation. These demonstrations leave lasting and wonderful impressions in the minds of potential future scientists. And since birds are present nearly everywhere people wander, anyone in any place can generate interesting questions about the creatures they encounter.

Finally, studies on birds reflect important themes in the general landscape of ecology and environmental studies, making them increasingly important and relevant. Many bird species serve as ambassadors of a variety of topics, including extinction, island biology, land-use ecology, speciation patterns, and climate-change issues. In essence, bird studies are the canaries in the coal mines for many scientific matters.

Our world offers countless opportunities to explore science through the lenses of myriad subjects. My hope is that others will find their perfect “nesting place” in the study of birds. But wherever you may find your lab or research, and whatever data you may be collecting, I hope you find superb organization with Quartzy—and the thirst to share your passions with others.

Quartzy is the world’s No. 1 lab management platform. We help scientists easily organize orders, manage inventory, and save money. We’re free and always will be. Visit Quartzy.com or reach out at info@quartzy.com.

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Taylor Crisologo

Taylor Crisologo