An insect ecologist will be discussing an order of birds that was once accused of stealing milk from goats.
Coupeville resident Joseph Sheldon, who has a doctorate in entomology, is turning his attention to a highly diverse group of birds known as goatsuckers for the first program of the Whidbey Audubon Society’s season at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 12 at the Coupeville Recreation Hall.
The goatsuckers is a diverse group of birds. They vary from the small known bird species to a most bizarre species with a wingspan of more than a meter that roosts in caves and uses echolocation to navigate. Sheldon will begin with a “forest” level survey of the order Caprimulgiformes as it is now constituted and then focus on some of the most interesting species, according to a press release from Whidbey Audubon Society.
“There are major changes going on in the classification of birds,” Sheldon said.
He’ll review the new information that is driving the changes that are taking place.
Sheldon received his bachelor of science degree at the College of Idaho in biology and his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois in entomology, insect ecology. For 36 years, he taught at Eastern College and Messiah College, both in Pennsylvania. He taught during the summers at Au Sable Institute of Environmental Science in Coupeville from 1987 to 2007.
Sheldon served as president of the American Entomological Society from 1991 to 1997 and as president of the American Scientific Affiliation from 1998 to 1999. He was invited to and presented expert testimony on the Endangered Species Act for the House Committee on Resources in 2004.
Sheldon retired to Whidbey Island in June of 2007. He is a founding board vice chair of Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship, board secretary for Whidbey Island Theological Studies and a board member of Whidbey Audubon Society since 2016, serving as field trip chair, secretary and now member-at-large
The Coupeville Recreation Hall is located at 901 Northwest Alexander Street. The doors open at 7 p.m. for refreshments and socializing, followed by a short business meeting at 7:15. The presentation begins at 7:30. The public is welcome to attend this free program.