Faces of AOS: Barb Kus Bio

• Email:

• Website/Blog/Etc:

• My position with AOS:
Chair, Service Award Committee
(Formerly COS Treasurer and oversaw COPO finances; worked with AOU on joint finances and budgeting during merger).

• My current full-time title and institution:
Research Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center. I am based at the San Diego Field Station of WERC.

• My current career stage:
Senior professional. Wow, I’ve never said that before!

• My lineage of mentors/labs:
Master’s: Advisor = William J. Hamilton III. After a stint working on Chacma Baboon nutritional ecology for a Ph.D. student in Botswana, I returned to do my thesis on the adaptive significance of flocking in wintering shorebirds. Other important mentors during that time were Gary Page and Lynne Stenzel at the (then) Point Reyes Bird Observatory (now Point Blue).
Ph.D. Advisor = William J. Hamilton III. I expanded my Master’s research into a larger project and continued work at Bolinas Lagoon for two more years. I also worked in the labs of Judy Stamps and Anne B. Clark on a study of social behavior of budgerigars (U.C. Davis) during my non-fieldwork season.

• #badlyexplainyourjob:
I stalk endangered birds to figure out what they need to survive. Then I tell anyone who will listen.

• My favorite bird and why:
You’d think I’d say Least Bell’s Vireo since I’ve studied them for over 30 years, but I think my favorite is the Yellow-breasted Chat. I never fail to smile when I hear their hooting and hollering and clucking and general vocalization of a joy for life.

• I am involved with AOS because:
I think it’s important to give back, and give forward. I benefitted a lot from the support and welcoming attitude of the ornithological societies when I was a grad student, as well as the professional and social opportunities the societies offered. I want to be sure that’s available for the generations coming up behind me.

• The best part about being a member of AOS is:
Being part of a group of such extraordinary individuals with a passion for birds and nature, and a commitment to supporting and serving the community of professionals working to understand and protect them.

• Birds are important to me because:
Besides being fascinating in so many ways, birds are readily observable and familiar to the public, and as such are ideal representatives of wildness and the natural world we need to protect.

• Advice I have to offer a student (master’s level or younger) in ornithology:
Yes, you CAN make a living at this. Be flexible and patient, and a path will unfold to take you where you want to be.

• One ornithology question or problem I would like to solve or see solved:
When will there be a geolocator small enough for an 8-g bird?

• Fun random fact about myself:
I am going to finish hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail before I die. Only 2,300 more miles to go!