Christine Stracey Richard started teaching at Guilford College in 2014. She is an ornithologist and I research on factors that affect reproductive success in songbirds. Recent work has focused on understanding breeding behaviors, such as singing on the nest and predator alarm calls. Much of this research utilizes video cameras to quantify nesting behavior.
My teaching interests are in animal behavior, ecology, and evolution. I try to give students authentic research experiences in all my classes and love finding ways to engage undergraduate students in all my projects!
I structure my spring three-week Field Ornithology (Biol 336) class more as an internship than a typical class. Students are in the field every morning, collecting data and gaining field skills, while in the afternoon they learn about ornithology. For example, in spring 2021, half of the class helped design and execute an experiment in which we presented model predators at mockingbird nests and recorded the alarm calls that the parents made in response to different predators. Students helped find nests for the trials, helped us figure out how to run the trials (fyi, cats on leashes don't work!), and then ran all of the trials during the three-week course. We found that mockingbirds give different alarm calls for different species of predators (e.g. "chats" at cats and "chucks" at snakes). These results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.