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Monthly Program: November 2022

November 3 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Birding Information: Mt. Diablo Audubon Society is way ahead of a lot of other bird conservation groups. We help birds where they live year round, not just where we see them around Diablo. Many of California’s birds are migratory, and spend half the year south of the border. We financially support conservation groups in Latin America where birds winter, but also where the species and habitats are much more numerous and diverse than around here. Juan Pablo Galván Martínez, our Conservation Chair, will share information about these special places and the groups we support, and what a difference we’ve made in the lives of both birds and people in the biodiversity hotspots far to the south.

Main Program:
The Secret Perfume of Birds
Danielle Whittaker

Smell has been called the most ancient sense, yet the myth that birds have no sense of smell has persisted for nearly 200 years. Behavioral, genomic, and neurobiological work has demonstrated that, like other animals, birds can use smell to navigate, find food, avoid predators, and even communicate with each other. The primary source of odors in most birds is preen oil, a substance secreted by the uropygial gland and used by birds in grooming and maintaining their feathers. The compounds that make up these odors provide important information about a bird’s identity, health, breeding status, aggressiveness, and more. By smelling odors from this oil, birds can recognize and assess potential mates and rivals. Dr. Danielle J Whittaker will discuss her research on dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), a widespread North American sparrow, investigating how these odors are produced, what they communicate, and how they relate to bird behavior. Additionally, she will draw connections to our understanding of the human sense of smell, which has similarly been underestimated.

Dr. Whittaker is the author of The Secret Perfume of Birds, published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2022. Whittaker is an evolutionary biologist who has studied chemical communication in songbirds for over a decade. Formerly the Managing Director of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action at Michigan State University, she is now the Managing Director of the COLDEX Center for Oldest Ice Exploration at Oregon State University, where she is learning about Antarctic ice cores and the study of paleoclimate.

Danielle Whittaker. Photo by Nicole Cottom.

Webinar Access Info:
Date: November 3, 2022 7:00 PM Pacific Time
Time: 7:00 PM–8:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Location: Zoom online meeting
Access: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82788395928?pwd=YVlzRUlERkRFNUI2QUw0SEZlc09sdz09
Meeting ID: 827 8839 5928
Passcode: 240549
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Meeting ID: 827 8839 5928
Passcode: 240549
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November 3
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


Ariana Rickard


CA United States + Google Map