The Find for Feathers
Taking a step back to embrace the nature around you is exactly what Bloomsburg University student Rebecca Burlingame, a junior from Stroudsburg, is doing.
Burlingame recently earned the Wildlife for Everyone scholarship ($750) and will continue working on the Tree Swallow project with BU biology professor Lauri Green. Burlingame, an ecology, and conservation field biology major was encouraged by Green to apply for the scholarship based on her qualifications.
The Wildlife for Everyone Foundation maintains a Wildlife Scholarship Fund that awards students with financial support to advance their career interests in a natural resource-related field such as wildlife resources, conservation, forest ecosystem management, environmental science, fisheries, and wildlife biology. The last BU applicant to win was Mary Ann Bogert in 2020.
“I got the scholarship thanks to my various experiences that directly impact wildlife, such as interning at the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, raising native brook trout for release into Cherry Valley Wildlife Refuge, and my work under Dr. Green with tree swallows.”
Dr. Green has been collecting tree swallow nests to determine if there are specific patterns to their construction. With the help of Burlingame, they are using different statistics to continue their research.
“We would like to see if there are any statistical differences in feather size and number within tree swallow nests across various natural and artificial wetlands,” said Burlingame “We expect the temperature to be another factor, and we are also working on assessing prey availability between the natural and artificial wetlands.”
Burlingame will assist Dr. Green and plans to use some of her scholarship money to help work on the study.
“I help count and trace feathers. I have also updated the GPS coordinates of a few of her sites and helped repair some nest boxes with the Environmental Science Learning Community this year. I plan to donate part of my scholarship money to purchase prey collection vials that will be needed in the prey availability study she is working on.”
Burlingame plans to collect data to protect endangered species.
“I would like to get a job with a government agency like USDA, the United States Geological Survey, or the U.S. Fish and Boat Commission doing fieldwork like identifying and sampling plants and animals,” Burlingame said. “The data from that sampling is usually used to guide national and state conservation plans to decide what species should be included in the plan so that they do not become endangered. It would be great to help collect that kind of data.”