About me

I’m Katie LaBarbera, a graduate student in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. Before I came here, I did research on House Wrens in the Fuller EvoBio Lab in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, as an undergraduate at Cornell University. Now, I’m working on a PhD on Dark-eyed Juncos in the mountains near Yosemite: specifically, how they respond to variability in their habitat, changes in the weather, and climate change.

In my spare time (haha – don’t worry, Dissertation Committee, I’m just kidding, I don’t have any spare time – I never do anything besides research, I promise! Look away now) I teach in a prison, write creatively, read science fiction, attempt to persuade my pet geckos to breed with each other, and watch Doctor Who.

Disclaimer: I speak only for myself, not for the MVZ or UC Berkeley or any subset of the general scientific community. If you don’t like something I say, I’m the only one to blame!

me with MAGG

21 thoughts on “About me

  1. Good evening ! I found this little fellow this morning (my cat did, but I rescued him/her) and because you’re specialized in birds (and obviously you love them! :D), I will ask your help in identifying this little one – http://carmenfortis.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/picture00234.jpg and a close view of the head – http://carmenfortis.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/micul-musafir-cine-sunt/
    I can tell that the bird has clean water and some fruits and seeds ( I have a little canary so I borrowed some of his food :D).
    Thank you very much and I wish you a wonderful day !
    Carmen

    • Hi Carmen,
      Wow, that’s a new one for me! The wings look like a swallow or purple martin, but the bill looks too long to be those species. Are you located in North America?
      Whatever it is, it’s a young fledgling: has all its feathers but still has some yellow around the gape. Its parents were probably still feeding it. I’d recommend feeding it for at least a few days (or taking it to a rehab center) before releasing it. Young birds rarely eat seeds – you’ll want to look for bugs, or try chopping a hard-boiled egg into small bug-sized strips. If it won’t eat food placed in front of it, try holding the food in your fingers and “swooping” your hand down to the baby, as if you’re a parent flying in. If the baby then opens its bill, put the food in.

      • Thank you for the help ! I am located in Europe, in Romania and unfortunately rehab centers don’t exist and the veterinary clinics are opened in weekends just on saturdays but untill 12 p.m. I have to say again the word unfortunately, by the night the little one seemed to be weak, of course I gave the bird food.
        When I woke up, the first thing was to check up on the little buddy but it died, maybe the reason could’ve been internal wounds created by the cat’s bites, I felt sorry because I knew it could have had a chance at life with the right help from a veterinarian.
        Thank you again for your help !
        Wishing you a sunny morning and beautiful day !

  2. Hi Carmen,

    It seems you get asked for advice on dealing with injured birds a lot… I hope this is not unwelcome.

    My cat recently brought in a little junco… he (not sure on the sex but lets say he) seems to be “ok” after the initial shock. I have had him in a dark box with some chopped sunflower seeds, almonds and walnuts (with a small water dish) for the last two days and tried to release him today. He was unable to fly and I had to re-capture him. He does seem to be moving around with no problem and seems very alert just unable to fly. I have back in a clean dark box with the aforementioned accouterments. I am not sure what to do next?

    I will try to contact some local wild life rescue institutions but last year I had an incident with a raccoon and nobody seemed interested in helping. If he is going to have to stay with me longer is there a way I should go about this? Should I leave him in the box or should I get a bird cage? I don’t know if he will be OK in the cage… I can leave him in an isolated part of the house where he won’t get stressed to often? Is there a better food I can get him? Maybe a bird seed mix from the local pet store?

    Any help you give me would be greatly appreciated… I love my cat but hate that this happens sometimes and would really like to see this little guy make it back into the wild.

    Thank you for taking the time.

    • Hi Christopher,
      If your local rehab places aren’t helpful – and they would definitely be the best thing for your junco – then I would keep him in a bird cage with a water dish and a seed mix (one of those wild bird mixes for birdfeeders). Give him a chance to recover; he may have injuries you can’t see. (One possibility is that one of his air sacs was punctured, which would take a while to heal.) In a decent-sized cage with a perch or two, he’ll be able to hop around until he can fly again. Keep him in a quiet part of the house – one where you can close a door to keep the cat out – near a window if possible, with a normal daily light-dark cycle. Don’t keep him in a dark box all the time, that sounds like no fun for him!
      I hope he gets better! Let me know how it goes. Thanks for taking care of him!

  3. Being of a scientific mind, you might not go in for this goofy award system, but I listed your site in my blog post today for the Beautiful Blogger award. Your blog is awesome and I’m so glad that I found it and would like others to see it, too. Thanks!

  4. Hi, how can i contact you, i need to communicate with you about something urgent that is happening here in iran’s wild life. You would be amazed!

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