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George Barrowclough

OLogy Series
ologist
card
090

George Barrowclough

OLogy Series
ologist

At age 10, George Barrowclough began bird watching with his dad. He pursued his interest in birds by becoming an ornithologist, a scientist who studies birds. George studies northern spotted owls in the wild, and analyzes their DNA in the lab. George hopes his research will help preserve these animals' habitats and save them from extinction.

To Catch a Hooting Bird
Catching owls isn't easy. That's why ornithologist George Barrowclough has to be swift and sneaky. He studies northern spotted owls. They live in the Pacific Northwest. George studies the spotted owls' DNA. To get a sample, he must first catch an owl. To find an owl's location, George's team makes spotted owl calls. Even when sleeping, a spotted owl will answer the call of another owl. George's team waits for night, when the owl wakes up. They tempt the owl to come close with a meal of a fresh mouse. While the owl is eating, the scientists catch the bird. They take a blood sample, make notes, and then let it go. On a good night, two scientists might catch only two owls, but their research may help save this threatened species.

If a scientist studies avian creatures, what does he or she study?

aardvarks

various birds

blue bugs

Are you right?

Correct!

The word "avian" refers to bird-like animals. Avis is Latin for bird. Avian animals have fascinated George Barrowclough since he was a kid.

Another bird that George likes to research is the junco. Juncos are birds that:

have sharp beaks

like to fly around junkyards

build their nests out of trash

Are you right?

Correct!

Juncos are sharp-beaked birds that are very good at cracking seeds open. George is interested in studying why the many kinds of juncos that live in North and Central America look so very different from each other.

George Barrowclough

I get to learn about animals that I love for a living.

George Barrowclough
Date of Birth: February 13, 1948
Hometown: Somerset, MA
Position: ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History
Education: Sc.B., Sc.M., Brown University;
Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Known for: studying spotted owls

Image credits: George with Oilbird, courtesy of Chuck Myers; George Barrowclough, courtesy of Chuck Myers.