Concord Professor Conducts Research on Land Birds

For Immediate Release: 
Nov 16 2004

Concord Professor Conducts Research on Land Birds

Athens, W.Va. - “Seventy percent of land birds are at risk of extinction within the next twenty years,” cited Dr. Ronald Canterbury, nationally known ornithologist and assistant professor of biology at Concord University. That sobering statistic is why the young professor researches the migratory and reproductive patterns of birds.

His work has focused primarily on the golden-winged warbler, along with its sister species, the blue-winger warbler. He is considered a national expert on the birds and has had his research published in professional journals.

Recently, the research of Canterbury and his colleagues was published in the October 2004 issue of “The Auk,” one of the foremost journals in ornithology (the study of birds). “The Auk” is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly since 1883 by The American Ornithologists’ Union. The Union is the oldest and largest organization in the New World devoted to the scientific study of birds.

The article was entitled, “Reciprocal Introgression Between Golden-Winged Warblers and Blue-Winged Warblers in Eastern North America.” According to Canterbury, the article presented arguments for “why blue wings have an advantage and gold wings are at a disadvantage.”

The authors included Canterbury, along with Leo H. Shapiro and Robert Fleischer of the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., and Dollie M. Stover of the Southern West Virginia Bird Research Center in Harper, W.Va.

“I actually started studying the golden-winged warbler while I was a sophomore at Concord,” said Canterbury. He continued his research through his graduate studies and the bird is still in the professor’s sights.

“I saw it out in the field, and thought it was a pretty neat, pretty cool bird,” said Canterbury about the golden-winged warblers he watched during his undergraduate days.

His research was included in a status assessment in July 2003 under a contract from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His research was also featured in a publication in August 2004 of the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program, which has been endorsed by many major government agencies. In addition, an article that he penned was published in “Birds of North America” in 2001.

Bird watchers may catch Dr. Canterbury at The New River Birding and Nature Festival presented by “Bird Watcher’s Digest,” which will be held May 2 through May 7, 2005, in West Virginia’s famous New River Gorge.

The festival takes place in and around the New River Gorge National River. That river is maintained by the National Park Service as a crucial habitat for the continued survival of species such as the golden-winged and blue-winged warbler, according to the festival’s website.

For more information on the festival, log on to, or contact 1-800-927-0263.

Canterbury also works with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to maintain and develop Important Bird Areas, or IBAs, in the Mountain State. “Each state has one, and I run the one here for West Virginia,” said Canterbury.

IBAs are designated by the state as key habitats for migration, wintering survivorship, and reproduction of important species of birds that could be facing a grim future without this help. They help to protect certain key areas in order to prevent the dwindling of important birds like the golden-winged warbler. Canterbury encourages bird-lovers to volunteer with the IBAs.

“Dr. Canterbury has been active in ornithology research throughout his years at Concord. His latest publication is another, prestigious acknowledgement of the importance of his research efforts,” said Dr. Dean Turner, vice president and academic dean. “We congratulate Dr. Canterbury on this achievement and appreciate his continuing to share his ever-expanding knowledge with the students at Concord.”

For more information, contact Dr. Ronald Canterbury, 1-304-384-5214 or


PHOTO: The golden-winged warbler is a tiny bird that may be in danger.

Jesse Call, a student in Concord University’s political science department wrote this press release. His hometown is Pocahontas, Va.