BIO433 Ornithological Methods (8)

This subject introduces students to the range of scientific methods used commonly in the field of ornithology. The subject covers both laboratory and field techniques for studying the morphology, anatomy, taxonomy, behaviour, diversity and ecology of birds. We will discuss appropriate ways of measuring these parameters and the limitations of each study technique. The subject has a hands-on intensive residential school that introduces a range of laboratory and field techniques used in ornithology. On completion, students have the technical skills necessary to commence a career as a professional ornithologist or get actively involved in amateur ornithological pursuits.


* Offering has a residential school. Please view following information for further details.

Session 1 (30)
Online *
Albury-Wodonga Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: BIO433. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Environmental Sciences

Assumed Knowledge

Assumed knowledge equivalent to BIO Level 3 subject content

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to demonstrate technical and scientific skills in a range of ornithological methods;
  • be able to provide a robust overview on how to design and conduct a scientific, ornithological study, including data analyses and write-up;
  • be able to demonstrate professional skills in sourcing information about birds from a variety of institutions:
  • be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge in how to estimate bird diversity, abundance and population size; and measure reproductive success, survival rates, dispersal, migration, and distribution in a scientific manner;
  • be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of how molecular and physiological studies can aid the advancement of ornithology;
  • be able to demonstrate practical skills in bird specimen preparation and research;
  • be able to demonstrate practical skills in studying morphology and anatomy of birds;
  • be able to demonstrate practical skills in handling, measuring and banding birds;
  • be able to demonstrate practical skills in setting up mist-nets and extracting birds;
  • be able to demonstrate practical skills in estimating bird diversity and abundance.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Topic 1: Ornithology - a modern science requiring a robust study design
  • Topic 2: The necessary evil of any science: statistics!
  • Topic 3: Measuring nesting success
  • Topic 4: Catching and marking birds for estimating population size and survival rates
  • Topic 5: Studying the behaviour of birds
  • Topic 6: Estimating bird density and abundance
  • Topic 7: Survey errors and limitations
  • Topic 8: Using remote sensing techniques to study bird movement
  • Topic 9: Studying habitat and bird distributions
  • Topic 10: Understanding avian life history evolution by taking a comparative approach
  • Topic 11: Molecular studies on birds
  • Topic 12: Bird physiology and health

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of BIO433 in Session 1 2019. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Nesting success of cloud-babblers
Evaluation of two survey methods
Final exam

Residential School

This subject contains a 4 day Compulsory Residential School.

This subject contains a compulsory 4 day residential school, which teaches students a range of hands-on practical skills and techniques used commonly in the field of ornithology.  Students learn a variety of laboratory and field techniques for studying bird morphology, anatomy, taxonomy, survival, abundance and diversity during this residential school.
Through these applied and hands-on experiences students gain the necessary practical and technical skills to undertake field work/research as a professional ornithologist.

Special Resources

This subject has a 4 day residential school and students are required to do their travel arrangements.

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: July 2020. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.