LSUMNS Big Day Fundraiser & T-shirts 2019

 2019 Bird Grad Student Photo

Back (L-R): Andre Moncrieff, Rafael Marcondes. Middle (L-R): Subir Shakya, Oscar Johnson, Jessie Salter, Anna Hiller, Matt Brady,
Eamon Corbett. Front (L-R): Glaucia Del-Rio, Marco Rego. Not pictured: Vivien Chua.


April 11, 2019

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are glad to report that there are currently 11 doctoral students at the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science working hard to continue this institution’s legacy of ornithological excellence. Two from our ranks, Clare Brown and Ryan Burner, successfully defended their dissertations this year, and eight of us are now 4+ years into our doctoral programs, which means we can expect a large wave of graduations in the next few years. This academic year we were also pleased to welcome a new ornithology graduate student, Eamon Corbett, into the “bird grad” family.

One of the reasons that the LSUMNS ornithology program is highly regarded internationally is that we prioritize field work in remote regions of the world where the birdlife is poorly known. This September, we are doing a first-of-a-kind all-women expedition in honor of Emilie Snethlage (1868-1929)—the first woman director of a scientific institution in South America. Emilie was the director of the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi in Belém, Brazil, from 1914-1922, and she was renowned for her skills as a field ornithologist. Despite her extensive fieldwork across the Amazon Basin, Emilie never had the opportunity to visit the Juruá River in far western Brazil. Thus, our upcoming Snethlage Expedition will focus on avian exploration of this region and will highlight the accomplishments of women ornithologists past and present.

Participation in these sorts of international expeditions is certainly a highlight for us, but we also enjoy keeping tabs on the birdlife on our home turf in Louisiana—particularly now that migration is just around the corner. Spring migration is a special time in part because of our annual 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 26 of last year our Big Day team recorded 204 species, and with the right combination of effort, weather, and luck, we hope to approach or even surpass our Big Day record of 221 set in 2010.

The funds we raise on Big Day will support graduate student ornithological research, including the Emilie Snethlage Expedition. The past generosity of donors like you has made the Big Day a success and made many research projects possible. We hope you will support our efforts this year by making a donation online at 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. As always, we are grateful for and inspired by your support.

Geaux Ornithology!

The LSUMNS Ornithology Graduate Students




This year the 2019 LSUMNS Ornithology T-shirt will feature a Downy Woodpecker (draft design shown below) drawn by LSUMNS alum Curt Burney. The shirts will be black with white lettering. They can be purchased at the link above.

COST: $20 per shirt (includes cost of shipping)


2019 bird shirt design of downy woodpecker


In the past year, LSUMNS ornithology graduate students:

  • Led expeditions to Brazil, Peru, and Indonesia
  • Described a new species of bulbul occurring in Borneo: the Cream-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus pseudosimplex). This is the first bird species description from Borneo in 94 years!
  • Used Big Day donations to sequence 10 genomes of Black-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps)
  • Used Big Day donations to pay for registration and flights to the June 2019 American Ornithological Society meeting in Alaska.
  • Published articles in 5 peer-reviewed journals: Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club, Evolution, Journal of Tropical Ecology, Kukila, and Treubia.
  • Received awards including a Werner and Hildegard Hesse Award, Frank M. Chapman Grant, American Society of Naturalists Student Research Award, Society of Systematic Biologists Graduate Student Research Award, Scientific Exploration Society Sir Charles Blois Explorer Award, Best Oral Presentation at the Brazilian Ornithological Congress, and AOS Student Travel awards. 

Looking ahead...

In August our women grad students will undertake the Emilie Snethlage Expedition in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon Forest. Our intention is to raise awareness for gender disparities in field biology, and to explore one of the most poorly sampled areas in the Amazon Basin: the floodplain of the middle Juruá River.

Emilie Snethlage sitting in a chairEmilie Snethlage (1926)