The RIT Avian Research Station (RARS) is an outdoor learning environment on the RIT campus dedicated to the study and conservation of birds. RARS was established to provide on-campus opportunities for students to learn and practice real-world field research skills in avian biology, including bird banding, and to engage faculty and students in sustainable campus activities.
RARS supports classes and labs in the College of Science and NTID. The station banding shed, surrounding habitat, and associated trails provide a unique outdoor learning environment for avian-related and environmental teaching activities. Bird banding demonstrations are also available for guest lectures and labs.
Take a class at the RIT Avian Research Station!
Ornithology (Biol-444) meets regularly at RARS during the fall semester. The course will cover the major principles in ornithology from evolutionary origins to the study of physiology, flight, behavior, life history traits and conservation. Exploration of current topics in avian biology and exploration of bird diversity will be key features of the lecture and lab. Labs will introduce current techniques in applied avian research and monitoring in both the field and the lab.
About Dr. Pagano
Dr. Susan Pagano is an Associate Professor of Biology in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences. She teaches Ornithology (BIOL-444), Animal Nutrition (BIOL-414) and Comparative Animal Physiology (BIOL-313). She is a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society and a Master Bander is associated with the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory (BBBO), where she conducts much of her research. She has also served as Associate Editor for Condor:Ornithological Applications since 2013. Her current research focuses on bird migration physiology, health and stress metrics in birds, and the nutritional ecology of songbirds, particularly as it relates to the quality of native and invasive berries for birds. Undergraduate students are integral to the research lab, and students have the opportunity to participate in field work at RARS and BBBO, and lab work related to the physiology of migratory birds and nutritional analysis of foods for wildlife.
Fruit nutrition for migratory birds: RARS supports research on the nutritional ecology of migratory birds, and the impact of invasive fruiting plants on bird health and physiological condition. (photo of invasive Common Buckthorn at RARS)
Current Project: Nutritional quality and chemical characterization of native and naturalized buckthorns (Rhamnacae). Collaborators: Dr. Todd Pagano and Morgan Bida, Dept. of Science and Math, NTID
Fall 2020 Banding: We had another successful fall season at the station with the help of our RIT undergraduate student crew. Despite the pandemic restrictions, we were able to band birds safely outside on several lovely fall mornings and train several students. We banded several new species for the station this fall!
RARS Special Events:
We welcomed students from the Vertebrate Zoology course on multiple banding days and hosted the Concepts of Environmental Science class for their Friday Lab in September.
We also hosted the RIT Pre-Vet Club for hands-on bird banding skills training in early October.