Stoddard Bird Lab

The Stoddard Bird Lab honors the astounding accomplishments of Herbert Stoddard in both the study of wild birds and the management of southern pine forests. Our mission is to continue this legacy by learning how best to conserve, manage, and monitor rare birds and other wildlife associated with fire-dependent ecosystems. Birds are a key focus because of their popularity with the general public and their strong links to both frequent fire and sustainable forestry. Frequent prescribed fire maintains the ground-cover conditions needed by Bachman’s and Henslow’s sparrows. Sustainable forestry maintains the mature trees needed by Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Brown-headed Nuthatches.

We fulfill our mission by focusing on the species of conservation concerns identified by state and federal agencies working in southeastern states. Specific research topics are designed to fill critical gaps in the scientific literature on these species and also to address the questions that private and public land managers have about the rare species they manage. Additional research topics emerge through our collaborations with scientists that work for state and federal agencies and six different universities. We also work on the rare wildlife associated with unique old-growth forests of the Red Hills region.

The products of our efforts are regularly disseminated through award-winning scientific articles and professional presentations and workshops. We also stress outreach to the general public by publishing popular articles and pamphlets that reach regional and national audiences and also by organizing stellar field trips and presentations for scores of civic and conservation groups annually.

Permanent Staff

Jim Cox, Director (CV)
Conducts field work and provides guidance on all current conservation and research efforts and also coordinates research activities on the Wade Tract.

Rob Meyer, Woodpecker Conservation Specialist (CV)
Working on woodpecker augmentation and reintroduction on private lands, deterring flying squirrel usurpation of woodpecker cavities, and characteristics of cavity trees excavated by reintroduced woodpecker populations.

Graduate Students

Jessica Cusick, PhD candidate, Florida State University. Cooperative breeding behavior in the Brown-headed Nuthatch

Samantha Dietz, MSc candidate, Florida State University. Brown-headed Nuthatch dispersal ecology

Mary Mack Gray, MSc candidate, University of Florida. Behavioral ecology and genetic integrity of reintroduced nuthatch populations

Heather Levy, MSc candidate, University of Georgia. Snag resources and cavity-nesting bird communities in old-growth pine forests

Research Associates

Dave McElveen, prescribed fire and rare butterfly conservation (link)

Dr. Tom Radzio, Gopher Tortoise thermal ecology, productivity, and juvenile survival in an old-growth pine forest (see Publications)

Some Recent Peer-reviewed Publications

Han, K., R. T. Kimball, and J. A. Cox. 2018. Testing hypotheses driving genetic structure in the cooperatively breeding Brown-headed Nuthatch Sitta pusilla. Ibis

Cusick, J. A., M de Villa, E. H. DuVal, and J. A. Cox. 2018. How do helpers help? Helper contributions throughout the nesting cycle in the cooperatively breeding Brown-headed Nuthatch. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

Radzio, T. A., J. A. Cox, and M. P. O’Connor. 2017. Behavior and conspecific interactions of nesting Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus). Herpetological Conservation and Biology

Cox, J. A. and J. K. McCormick. 2016. New insights from an attempt to reintroduce Red-cockaded Woodpeckers in northern Florida. Journal of Field Ornithology

Gray, M. M., E. W. Schunke, and J. A. Cox. 2015. Tool usage by juvenile Sitta pusilla (Brown-headed Nuthatch). Southeastern Naturalist

Cerame, B., J. A. Cox, R.T. Brumfield, J. W. Tucker, and S. S. Taylor. 2014. Adaptation to ephemeral habitat may overcome natural barriers and severe habitat fragmentation in a fire-dependent species, the Bachman’s Sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis). PloS One

Jones, C. D., J. A. Cox, and R. J. Cooper. 2014. Bachman’s Sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis) response to variation in the extent of burns conducted during the nesting season. Avian Conservation and Ecology 9

Articles and Pamphlets

Bryntesson, F., W. C. Hunter, and J. Cox. 2018. Stoddard’s Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Tall Timbers eJournal

Cox, J. A., J. A. Cusick, and E. H. DuVal. 2016. Sex in the Sitta. Birding Magazine

Cox, J. A. and B. Widener. 2008. Lightning-season burning: friend or foe of breeding birds? Miscellaneous Publication 17, Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL

Cox, J. 2004. Fat chance, slim chance, big chance, no chance: the lovely art of caprice. In S. Cerulean and J. Raye (eds). Between Two Rivers Red Hills Writer’s Group, Tallahassee, FL

Cox, J. 1989. Birdwatching Basics. Two part series appearing Florida Wildlife Magazine.