IamA hummingbird researcher. AMA!
Hi everyone, my name is Dr. Anne Houtman, and I’m an ornithologist whose research has focused on hummingbirds. I’m here to answer questions with help from Atlas Obscura.
My research has focused on the behavioral ecology of hummingbirds, focusing on sexual selection and male song. Hummingbirds are unique from other species in that some hummingbirds learn song, while others appear to lack this ability. My research focuses on how learned song in hummingbirds has evolved. (Fun fact: I once caught a hummingbird in flight out of the air with my bare hands.)
Additionally, I’ve conducted research on how best to teach science to non-scientists. I’ve also written two textbooks: I’m the first author of an environmental science textbook and a non-majors biology textbook. I was born in Kansas, and I moved to Hawaii at age 11. My first job when I was 16 was working at Hawaii’s Sea Life Park with baby sea lions and dolphins. I’m currently the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
I’m looking forward to answering your questions!
EDIT: Heading out to a meeting now! Thanks for all the questions! Now that I’m an administrator I don’t get to talk about birds or my books very often, so this was so much fun for me!