Department of Biology
Loyola University Maryland
4501 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210-2699
Office: DS 260
Office tel: 410-617-2197
Areas of Interest
Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation Biology
I have two main areas of interest, parental care and bird song. Songbird young require extensive parental care. One aspect of such care is nest attentiveness, maintaining vigilance around the nest. I study how Wood Thrush parents coordinate their behaviors at the nest during the incubation and nestling stages. Surprisingly, pairs differ in their nest attentiveness. Most of the difference can be attributed to males. Some males coordinate their visits to the nest well with their mate; effectively assuring an adult is at the nest all the time. Other males, because of their erratic attendance, leave the nest vulnerable. Understanding the reasons for this variability among males is a central focus of my current research. I am also interested in the function of bird song, especially the evolution of complex singing behavior such as found in Northern Mockingbirds. Recently, I have been performing field experiments to determine if birds have a perceptual capability that allows them to determine the distance to another singing bird which is not visible by monitoring the amount of degradation in the song. This perceptual ability has been named the Ranging Mechanism. My research in this area has been on Dusky Antbirds, a Central American (work in Panama) songbird, and Wood Thrushes, a neotropical migrant songbird. Future playback experiments on the Wood Thrush will test several assumptions of the Ranging Hypothesis. Conservation issues have become more important in my research because Wood Thrush numbers are declining. Specifically, I am now determining the impact of cowbird nest parasitism and predation by Blue Jays on the nest success in Wood Thrushes. I am also interested in behavioral adaptations, such as the adaptive value of nest structure and positioning, and social behavior, and mating strategies in birds.
Morton, E.S., K. Derrickson, and B.J.M. Stutchbury (2000) Territory switching behavior in a sedentary tropical passerine, the dusky antbird (Cercomacra tyrannina). Behavioral Ecology 11: 648-653.
Hersek, M.J. and K. Derrickson (1998) The generalist foraging habits of Northern Mockingbirds. Bird Observer 26: 18-21.
Logan, C.A. and K. Derrickson (1997) Aggressive harassment by male Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) directed at their incubating mates. Bird Behavior 11: 71-80.
Fleischer, R.C., C.L. Tarr, E.S. Morton, A. Sangmeister, and K. Derrickson (1997) Mating system of the Dusky Antbirds, a tropical passerine, as assessed by DNA fingerprinting. Condor 99: 512-514.
Morton, E.S. and K. Derrickson (1996) Song ranging by the dusty antbird, Cercomacra tyranninia: ranging without song learning. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 39: 195-201.
Wemmer, C. and K. Derrickson (1994). Duetting in the great horned owl, Bubo nipalensis Hodgson (Strigiformes: Strigidae). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 91: 141-142.
Derrickson, K. and R. Breitwisch (1992) Northern Mockingbird. In: The Birds of North America, No. 7 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.; the American Ornithologist's Union.