LSUMNS BIG DAY Fundraiser! - Spring 2017


2017 Ornithology Grad StudentsBack (L-R): Ryan Burner, Matt Brady, Oscar Johnson, Glenn Seeholzer, Jessie Salter, Andre Moncrieff.
Front (L-R): Subir Shakya, Clare Brown, Vivien Chua, Glaucia Del-Rio, Marco Rego. 
Not pictured: Caroline Judy, Anna Hiller, Rafael Marcondes, Cesar Sanchez, Ryan Terrill.



Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Spring is an exciting time at the LSU Museum of Natural Science. There are currently sixteen graduate students continuing the legacy of ornithological excellence at the LSUMNS – several of the older cohort are preparing to defend their dissertations, others are eagerly planning summer expeditions in Indonesia, Bolivia, and Brazil, and many of us are preparing to share our work at scientific meetings across the country. In our spare time, you can find us behind binoculars keeping tabs on the local bird life – especially now that early spring migrants are arriving in Louisiana.

Spring migration is a special time for us ornithology graduate students – in part because of our Annual Louisiana Big Day Fundraiser. On the Big Day, after weeks of scouting and planning, a team of LSUMNS graduate students will scour the state for 24 hours to see as many bird species as possible under American Birding Association Big Day rules. We target the end of April, when bird diversity is highest due to the large number of migratory bird species passing through on their way to northerly breeding grounds. We’ll be closely monitoring the weather forecasts to pick the best day possible. On April 21 of last year our Big Day team recorded 219 species, just two species shy of the state record set by LSU students in 2010. With the right combination of effort, weather, and luck, we hope to approach or even surpass that record number this year!

The funds we raise on the Big Day directly support the field and lab work conducted by ornithology graduate students at the Museum. This money helps us launch newly conceived research projects, fills in funding holes when our grants run low, and sends us to international scientific conferences to share our latest research.

In the past year, LSUMNS ornithology graduate students have used Big Day funds to:

  • Purchase a field recording unit, which was recently used on a trip to Puno, Peru to document geographic variation in vocalizations of 82 species of Neotropical birds.
  • Sequence genomic data from 190 Southeast Asian birds to determine population structure across Indo-Malaya
  • Hire field assistants to collect vocalization recordings throughout the year to study seasonal differences in singing and breeding activity in Bornean birds
  • Attend the 2016 North American Ornithological Conference in Washington, D.C. to present research on the phylogenetics of river island bird species in the Amazon Basin and patterns of morphological variation in Blue-crowned Manakins

The past generosity of donors like you has made the Big Day a success, and made these projects and many more possible. We hope you will support our efforts this year by making a donation online. All donations are tax deductible.

The graduate program at the LSUMNS is widely regarded as one of the premier programs for bird study, and your donations directly contribute to our success, which helps us recruit the next generation of ornithologists. We hope we can count on your donation for the Big Day fundraiser this year. As always, we are grateful for and inspired by your support.


The LSUMNS Ornithology Graduate Students


Stay tuned to our social media for live updates on Big Day, Monday April 24th!



Click the “Donate Online” button below and fill out the donation form. When you arrive at the section entitled “Designations,” choose “Other” and type “Ornithology Student Support Fund” in the “Gift Comments” blank. THANK YOU!! 



In November 2016, Ryan Burner, Lindsay Burner and Subir Bahadur Shakya flew to Jakarta, Indonesia where they met up with our Indonesian collaborators from LIPI to start a multi-year research project focusing on the birds on peripheral islands in Sundaland (Borneo, Java and Sumatra). During this trip, one of the first LSU expeditions to Indonesia, they visited three sites, Maratua Island, Bawean Island and Berau (in East Kalimantan, Borneo) and collected many new specimens for LSU including some of the first modern avian specimens from these places in 60 years.

In the past year, LSUMNS ornithology graduate students published articles in Evolution, Ibis, Malimbus, Ornitologia Neotropical, Raffles Journal of Zoology, and Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

We congratulate Rafael Marcondes on winning the American Society of Naturalists Ruth Patrick Award for best student poster at the 2016 Evolution Meeting in Austin, TX and Glenn Seeholzer for winning the Association of Field Ornithologists Student Presentation Award at the 2016 North American Ornithology Conference in Washington, DC. We also congratulate Glaucia Del-Rio, who is the first student in the LSU College of Science to receive the prestigious American Association of University Women doctoral fellowship.


2017 Student News