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What You'll Study
  • The biology of migratory birds, including their ecology, evolution, and diversity
  • The development of hypotheses and appropriate predictions for addressing questions about migratory birds and their populations
  • Proper field techniques for mist-netting, measuring, and banding live birds
  • Appropriate analytical procedures for field and lab data collected from migratory bird populations, including mark-recapture, distance sampling, and tracking data
  • Preparation of bird study skins for long-term curated storage in a natural history collection
  • Central issues in conserving and managing migratory bird populations, and the areas of greatest research need

Participants must be familiar with basics of programming in R and should have completed college-level courses in General Biology, Introductory Statistics, and Ornithology.

Program Details

September 17 – 28, 2018

Available Formats

Graduate (CONS 630, 3 credits)
Professional Training (SMSC 0528, 8.8 CEUs)


Graduate: See Mason’s graduate tuition rates

Professional Training: $2,925.50*

*Professionals from certain countries  are eligible for a reduced rate of $2025  which will automatically be reflected during the registration process.

Scholarships & financial aid


Apply by August 6, 2018

Payment Deadline: August 13, 2018

Meet the Faculty

Brian S. Evans
Migratory Bird Ecologist
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
Brian has been a researcher at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center since 2007, specializing in environment-bird interactions with a focus on the landscape ecology of Greater Washington, D.C.


Migratory birds travel annually between breeding and wintering locations, often covering thousands of kilometers. The biology behind these behaviors encompasses some of the most complex and exciting, yet least understood phenomena known to science. Understanding the links between these seasonal events can have important implications for population dynamics, as well as conservation and management strategies.

This 2-week course capitalizes on the research and expertise of scientists from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at SCBI, who will lead field sessions and lectures. Regular morning mist-netting sessions will increase your familiarity with capture and handling of birds, while substantial computer time will focus on key analytical approaches in R, including distance sampling, survival estimation, and tracking analysis.

The research programs of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at SCBI cover the ecology and evolution of migration, migratory connectivity, breeding and non-breeding life history, population dynamics, and the ecological services that migratory birds provide. This course is designed to teach conservation professionals and field scientists the most current methods in the research of bird migration, including theoretical concepts, field and laboratory methods, data analysis, and applied conservation strategies.

See Detailed Curriculum

What’s Included

Total cost includes:

  • Instruction, course manual, and other course materials
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off shuttle service at Dulles International Airport (IAD) at pre-arranged times. We do not provide ground transportation shuttle service to or from any other airports in the Washington, DC, region
  • Transportation for course activities
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost)

Acceptance does not guarantee you a seat in the course. Seats are allocated as registration payments are received, and early registration is strongly encouraged to ensure you get a spot.

Interested in Commuting?

Participants with a documented, permanent address local to campus may elect to commute with permission from SMSC. Commuters are required to purchase a reduced meal plan which includes lunch and snack breaks for each day of instruction. Additional dining options are available and may be selected during registration.  Email for additional information.

Take the next step toward a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity