The National Aviary is closed today, February 20, due to inclement weather.

The National Aviary is closed today, February 20, due to inclement weather.

Robert Mulvihill

Robert Mulvihill, Ornithologist 

Robert S. Mulvihill, the National Aviary’s Ornithologist credits his mother’s casual backyard bird feeding hobby for his early interest in bird watching. In particular, it was her copies of the books American Birds in Color, by Hal Harrison (1948), T. Gilbert Pearson’s 1944 classic Birds of America, and Chester Reed’s ground-breaking pocket-sized guide to Land Birds East of the Mississippi that were his entrée into the world of birds and bird watching.  The deal was sealed when his family built a cabin on Stoughton Lake in Jennerstown, Somerset County, PA—from then on birds he knew well on paper came to life before his eyes every weekend!  It also put him geographically closer to Powdermill Nature Reserve, which he and his mother visited for the first time when he was 14 years old. 

After a summer education internship at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Bob began volunteering at Powdermill regularly in fall 1978 when he was in college. He received his B.S. in Education (secondary education/biology) from the University of Pittsburgh in 1980, and he was hired full-time as a bander and education specialist at Powdermill in 1983.  While working full-time, Bob earned an M.S. in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1993.

Bob has been an active member of the birding and bird conservation community in western Pennsylvania for more than forty years.  He began his ornithological career as a volunteer at Powdermill Nature Reserve, the biological field station of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  He was subsequently hired there as a bird-banding assistant and education specialist, working at the world renowned Powdermill bird-banding station.  During his nearly 30-year tenure there, Bob banded several hundred thousand birds from hummingbirds to hawks.  He has conducted long-term field research on several bird species, including Dark-eyed Junco, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Louisiana Waterthrush.  His research on migratory birds has taken him to Mexico and Central America.  He has authored more than thirty peer-reviewed scientific articles, edited volumes on the conservation of Pennsylvania birds, written dozens of popular articles about birds and nature for newspapers and magazines, and given hundreds of talks about birds and bird-banding research throughout the United States, as well as Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Canada.  

Mulvihill has extensive experience with “citizen science” programs to advance the study of birds and increase people’s appreciation of them.  He served as a regional coordinator and species account author for the first Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania from 1983-1989, and he recently served as the statewide project coordinator and co-editor of the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania from 2004-2010).  In 2013, Mulvihill brought Neighborhood Nestwatch, a citizen-science project developed by the Smithsonian Institution, to backyard bird-lovers in the Greater Pittsburgh area.  He also participates in Project Owlnet, banding Northern Saw-whet Owls at a public park during their migration through western Pennsylvania; the Hummer/Bird Study Group, banding “winter” hummingbirds in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.  He regularly organizes and takes part in several local Christmas Bird Counts and leads dozens of bird walks throughout the Pittsburgh area. 

Mulvihill takes great pride in having trained and mentored more than a hundred students throughout his career, many of whom have gone on to pursue graduate degrees and lead productive careers in ornithology and conservation biology.  He has received awards in recognition of outstanding efforts on behalf of bird conservation from the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania (W. E. Clyde Todd Award) and the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (Golden Pileated Award and Earl Poole Award).

Peer-Reviewed Publications 

Hudon, J. and R. Mulvihill.  2018. Diet-induced plumage erythrism as a result of the spread of alien shrubs in North America. North American Bird Bander 42:95-103.

Wilson, A. W., D. Brauning, C. Carey, and R. S. Mulvihill. 2017. Spatial models to account for variation in observer effort in bird atlases. Ecology and Evolution (Open Access) 2017: 1-13.

Van Buskirk, J., R. S. Mulvihill, and R. C. Leberman. 2012. Phenotypic plasticity alone cannot explain climate-induced change in avian migration timing. Ecology and Evolution 2(10): 2430–2437.

Pearce, T. A., R. S. Mulvihill, and K. A. Porter. 2012. Land slugs (Gastropoda: Pulmonata) on birds demonstrate dispersal potential. The Nautilus 126:38–40.

Katzner, T. E., Brandes, D., Miller, T., Lanzone, M., Maisonneuve, C., Tremblay, J. A., R. Mulvihill, Merovich, G. T. 2012. Topography drives migratory flight altitude of golden eagles: implications for on-shore wind energy development. Journal of Applied Ecology, 49(5), 1178-1186.

Mattsson, B. J., S. C. Latta, R. J. Cooper, and R. S. Mulvihill. 2011. Latitudinal variation in reproductive strategies by the migratory Louisiana Waterthrush. Condor 113: 412-418.

Leppold, A. J., and R. S. Mulvihill. 2011. The boreal landbird component of migrant bird communities in eastern North America. Pp. 73-84 (Chapter Six) in J.V. Wells (ed.), Boreal birds of North America: a hemispheric view of their conservation links and significance. Studies in Avian Biology (no. 41), University of California Press, Berkley, CA.

Master, T. L., R. S. Mulvihill, and S. C. Latta. 2010. Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla). In Terrestrial vertebrates of concern in Pennsylvania: A guide to conservation, management, and research (M. A. Steele, M. C. Brittingham, T. Maret and J. F. Merritt, eds.). Pennsylvania Game Commission and John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Majumdar, S. K., T. L. Master, M. C. Brittingham, R. M. Ross, R. S. Mulvihill, and J. E. Huffman (Eds.). 2010. Avian ecology and conservation: a Pennsylvania focus with national implications. Pennsylvania Academy of Science, 368pp.

Latta, S. C., and R. S. Mulvihill. 2010. The Louisiana Waterthrush as an indicator of headwater stream quality in Pennsylvania. Pp. 246-258 in (Majumdar et al., eds.) Avian ecology and conservation: a Pennsylvania focus with national implications. Pennsylvania Academy of Science, Easton, PA.

Van Buskirk, J., R. S. Mulvihill, and R. C. Leberman. 2010. Declining body sizes in North American birds associated with climate change. Oikos 119: 1047-1055.

Van Buskirk, J., R. S. Mulvihill, and R. C. Leberman. 2009. Variable shifts in spring and autumn migration phenology in North American songbirds associated with climate change. Global Change Biology 15:760-771.

Mattsson, B. J., T. L. Master, R. S. Mulvihill and W. D. Robinson. 2009. Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla), revised account. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/151, doi:10.2173/bna.151.

Mulvihill, R. S., S. C. Latta, and F. L. Newell. 2009. Temporal constraints on the incidence of double brooding in the Louisiana Waterthrush. Condor 111: 341-348.

Allen, M. C., J. S. Sheehan, T. L. Master, and R. S. Mulvihill. 2009. Responses of Acadian flycatchers (Empidonax virescens) to hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) infestation in Appalachian riparian forests. Auk, 126:543-553.

Mulvihill, R. S., F. L. Newell, and S. C. Latta. 2008. Effects of stream acidification on the breeding ecology of a stream-dependent songbird, the Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla). Freshwater Biology 53: 2158-2169.

Master, T. L., R. S. Mulvihill, R. C. Leberman, and J. Sánchez. 2005. A preliminary study of riparian songbirds in Costa Rica, with emphasis on wintering Louisiana Waterthrushes. In (C. J. Ralph, ed.) Bird conservation, implementation, and integration, Proc. 3rd International Partners In-Flight Conference. 20-24 March 2002; Asilomar CA, Vol. 1. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191. Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Dept. Agric.; 651 pp.

Marra, P. P., C. M. Francis, R. S. Mulvihill, and F. R. Moore. 2005. The influence of climate on the timing and rate of spring bird migration. Oecologia 142:307-315. 3

Mulvihill, R. S., R. C. Leberman, and A. J. Leppold. 2004. Relationships among body mass, fat, wing length, age, and sex for 170 species of birds banded at Powdermill Nature Reserve. Eastern Bird Banding Association Special Monograph No. 1, xii + 184 pp.

O'Connell, T., Bishop, J., Mulvihill, R., Lanzone, M., Miller, T., & Brooks, R. (2004). Sampling Design for Pennsylvania’s 2nd Breeding Bird Atlas: 2004-2009. Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Penn State Cooperative Wetlands Center.

Mulvihill, R. S., A. Cunkleman, L. Quattrini, T. J. O’Connell, and T. L. Master. 2002. Opportunistic polygyny in the Louisiana Waterthrush. Wilson Bull. 114:106–113.

Sánchez, J. E., R. S. Mulvihill, and T. L. Master. 2000. First description of the nest and eggs of the Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula), with some behavioral notes. Ornitología Neotropical 11:189-195.

Mulvihill, R. S. 1999. Effects of stream acidification on the breeding biology of an obligate riparian songbird, the Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla). Pp. 51-61 in The effects of acidic deposition on aquatic ecosystems in Pennsylvania (W. E. Sharpe and J. R. Drohan, eds.). Proc. 1998 PA Acidic Deposition Conf., Vol. 2, Environmental Resources Research Inst., University Park, PA.

Mulvihill, R. S., and R. C. Leberman. 1997. Factors affecting the survival of Ovenbirds wintering in the Northeast. Wilson Bulletin 109:161-166.

Mulvihill, R. S., and C. Rimmer. 1997. Timing and extent of the molts of adult Red-eyed Vireos (Vireo olivaceus) on their breeding and wintering grounds. Condor 99:73-82.

Mulvihill, R. S., and R. L. Winstead. 1997. Variation in the extent of the first prebasic molt of Dark-eyed Juncos. Journal of Field Ornithology 68:183-199.

Brauning, D. W., M. C. Brittingham, D. A. Gross, R. C. Leberman, T. L. Master and R. S. Mulvihill. 1994. Pennsylvania breeding birds of special concern: A list rationale and status update. Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 68:3-28.

Mulvihill, R. S. 1993. Using wing molt to age passerines. North American Bird Bander 18:1-10.

Mulvihill, R. S. 1992. [20 species accounts]. In Atlas of breeding birds in Pennsylvania (D. W. Brauning, ed.), Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA.

Chandler, C. R. and R. S. Mulvihill. 1992. The effects of age, sex, and fat level on wing loading in the Dark-eyed Junco. Auk 109:235-241.

Mulvihill, R. S., R. C. Leberman, and D. S. Wood. 1992. A possible relationship between reversed sexual size dimorphism and reduced male survivorship in the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). Condor 94:480-489.

Mulvihill, R. S., K. C. Parkes, R. C. Leberman, and D. S. Wood. 1992. Evidence supporting a dietary basis for orange-tipped rectrices in the Cedar Waxwing. Journal of Field Ornithology 63:212-216.

Mulvihill, R. S. and C. R. Chandler. 1991. A comparison of wing shape between migratory and sedentary Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis). Condor 93:172-175.

Mulvihill, R. S. and C. R. Chandler. 1990. The relationship between wing shape and differential migration in Dark-eyed Juncos. Auk 107:490-499.

Chandler, C. R. and R. S. Mulvihill. 1990. Wing-shape variation and differential timing of migration in Dark-eyed Juncos. Condor 92:54-61.

Chandler, C. R. and R. S. Mulvihill. 1990. Interpreting differential timing of capture of sex classes during spring migration. Journal of Field Ornithology 61:85-89.

Chandler, C. R. and R. S. Mulvihill. 1988. The use of wing shape indices: an evaluation. Ornis Scandinavica 19:212-216.

Mulvihill, R. S. 1988. The occurrence of Dickcissels (Spiza americana) in western Pennsylvania during the 1988 nesting season—its possible bearing on the species’ unusual history in eastern North America. Pennsylvania Birds 2:83-87.

Mulvihill, R. S. (1987). Runt Eggs: a Discovery, a Synopsis and a Proposal for Future Study. North American Bird Bander, 12(3), 94-96.