Dr. Jim Kellam likes to Tell Bird Stories
“Jim! The Hays Eagle just had an egg hatch!” called my wife from the living room in early 2014. For days before, she and her elementary school students had been watching the birds at their nest via the video feed provided by PixCams. It was so extraordinary to have a nesting pair of Bald Eagles right there in Pittsburgh. I knew the significance of that event perhaps a little more than the average person, since I am a professional ornithologist. In fact, I use the rebound of Bald Eagle populations in the continental United States as a case study to introduce Saint Vincent College students to the field of conservation biology. I’ve been teaching a conservation-centered course at the Latrobe, Pennsylvania, campus since 2007 when I was hired as a Biology Professor. With my wife’s encouragement, I started integrating PixCams’ wildlife cameras and video footage into multiple courses at Saint Vincent. The Bird Feeder Cameras are featured prominently in a homework assignment given to my Ornithology students. The Elk and other Wildlife Cameras are shown to students in my Wildlife Biology course. And of course, when the Eagles are nesting, they are the topic of conversation between me and any defenseless person I might temporarily hold captive in the hallways of our campus buildings. You should know this “captivity” is figurative. First, actual kidnapping is against my character; and second, any interruption to the person’s hallway movement is by their choice. Nearly everyone at this small liberal arts college knows me, and I get the impression they like to hear my bird stories.
I’m hoping users of PixCam’s many features will like to hear my bird stories, too. I’ll be writing about how I teach ornithology to college students, what research studies we are conducting, some avian natural history and behavior, and information about the public birding events I lead. It was probably inevitable that my teaching and research would eventually intersect with PixCams in a more formal way since we both value wildlife education and community outreach.
My first interaction with Bill Powers, president of PixCams, was about a year ago when he had found a blog post I had written about searching for woodpecker nests. I have published several articles on North American woodpeckers and have an ongoing project that requires I find nests of woodpeckers to document their habitat preferences. Bill knew there was a Pileated Woodpecker nest near his home and he reached out to me for advice on finding it. A few months later I contacted him about installing a camera to watch a bird feeder here on the college campus. We’ve been working together on various projects and ideas ever since, and this first post from me is the start of one of those ideas. I look forward to sharing with the PixCams community!
About the Author
Dr. Jim Kellam is an Associate Professor of Biology at Saint Vincent College (Latrobe, Pa.) where he teaches undergraduate courses in General Biology, Wildlife Biology, Conservation Biology, Ornithology, and Human Biology. Since starting at the college in 2007, he has supervised more than 66 student research projects in Biology and Environmental Science. His research publications have centered on woodpeckers, specifically the links between their social interactions, physiology, and seasonality. He earned a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Purdue University (West Lafayette, In.) in the field of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He holds a B.A. in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Me.).
Phone: 724-805-2171 (Work)
Address: 300 Fraser Purchase Road Latrobe, PA 15650
YouTube Channel: youtube.com/channel/UCHfmHCLky554jGLltqWhwvw