As an undergraduate at the Pennsylvania State University, I was an intern with the Berks International Conservation Internship program. I was an intern for three years during which, I participated in summer fieldwork on life history, management, and conservation of gulls and terns on the Canadian Great Lakes and autumn fieldwork investigating stop over ecology of owls migrating across eastern Pennsylvania.
Under the guidance of Drs. Jennifer Arnold and Stephen Oswald, I was part of two research projects focused on Canadian waterbirds. In the first, I developed a photographic tool for estimating ages of Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) chicks and coordinated volunteers in a multi-site field and laboratory test to evaluate its accuracy. Although there are field guides to chick ages for many species, the effectiveness of these guides in improving age estimates are seldomly assessed in the literature, and my project was one of the first comprehensive evaluations. In the second, I was part of a research team that documented the natural adoption of two Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) chicks by a pair of adult Caspian Terns (Hydroprogne caspia), who were able to raise one of the chicks to fledging. This appears to be one of the first successful adoptions across taxonomic families of waterbirds. My work focusing on Canadian waterbirds was featured in a 2012 PSU publication highlighting campus research and in a PSU news blurb covering an international conference I attended with my fellow lab mates.
As another component of my internship, I joined a volunteer organization conducting research on the stop-over ecology of Northern Saw-whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) migrating across eastern Pennsylvania. In addition to furthering my experience banding birds and engaging the public during group visits to the banding center, I expanded my internship to examine their 15-year dataset.