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John Smallwood

Associate Professor, Biology

Science Hall 117
BA, Miami University
MS, Miami University
PhD, The Ohio State University
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BIOL 213, Introduction to Ecology
BIOL 430, Ornithology


BIOL 574, Behavioral Ecology
BIOL 575, Avian Biology
BIOL 595, Conservation Biology


I am fascinated by birds. They comprise a spectacularly diverse group of animals, from hummingbirds to ostriches, woodpeckers to ducks, and penguins to warblers. Fossil evidence demonstrates that birds are the living descendants of dinosaurs.

Birds are the most mobile creatures in the Animal Kingdom. The world speed record is held by the Peregrine Falcon, which can stoop at more than 200 mph. Arctic Terns breed within the Arctic Circle, but fly to the Antarctic for winter, a yearly round trip of over 24,000 miles. A Bar-tailed Godwit, a kind of shorebird, recently was tracked as it flew from Alaska to New Zealand, an 8-day, 7,270-mile nonstop journey over open water, and they can't swim! Even an unexceptional sparrow can fly continuously at about 30 mph for a couple of days, covering more than 1000 miles.

Birds see in color and they also have the most complex vocalizations; they use both these attributes in an extraordinary repertoire of individual and social behaviors. I am especially interested in the behavior of birds of prey. Unlike their vegetarian relatives, predatory birds make a living by capturing meals that do their very best to escape. Thus, raptors represent a highly specialized group of animals that are very good at what they do.

Most of my research has focused on the American Kestrel, the smallest and most widespread falcon in the Western Hemisphere. I am interested in all aspects of its behavior and ecology. They live in open habitats, such as meadows and pastures, and they nest in cavities excavated by other species. Since 1990 I have been studying populations of kestrels that breed in nest boxes I erected in New Jersey and Florida.


(*student advisees)

For full-text copies of many of the following papers, visit

McCLURE, C. J. W., J. L. BROWN, S. E. SCHULWITZ, J. SMALLWOOD, K. E. *FARLEY, J.-F. THERREIN, K. E. MILLER, K. STEENHOF, and J. A. HEATH. 2021. Demography of a widespread raptor varies across disparate regions. Ibis 163:658-670.

SMALLWOOD, J. A. 2016. Effects of researcher-induced disturbance on American Kestrels breeding in nest boxes in northwestern New Jersey. J. Raptor Res. 50:54-59.

BROWN, J. L., M. W. COLLOPY, and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 2014. Habitat fragmentation reduces occupancy of nest boxes by an open-country raptor. Bird Conservation International 24:364-378.

*LESKO, M. J. and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 2012. Ectoparasites of American Kestrels in north-central New Jersey and their relationship to nestling growth and survival. J. Raptor Research 46:304-313.

KORKY, J. K. and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 2011. Geographic variation in northern green frog larvae, Lithobates clamitans melanotus, in northwestern New Jersey. Bull. Maryland Herpetol. Soc. 47:1-10.

SMALLWOOD, J. A, M. F. CAUSEY, D. H. MOSSOP, J. R. KLUCSARITS, B. ROBERTSON, S. ROBERTSON, J. MASON, M. J. MAURER, R. J. MELVIN, R. D. DAWSON, G. R. BORTOLOTTI, J. W. PARRISH, JR., T. F. BREEN, and K. BOYD. 2009. Why are American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) populations declining in North America? Evidence from nest box programs. J. Raptor Research 43:274-282.

SMALLWOOD, J. A., P. WINKLER, G. I. FOWLES, and M. A. CRADDOCK. 2009. American Kestrel breeding habitat: the importance of patch size. J. Raptor Research 43:308-314.

SMALLWOOD, J. A. and M. W. COLLOPY. 2009. Southeastern American Kestrels respond to an increase in the availability of nest cavities in Northcentral Florida. J. Raptor Research 43:291-300.

MILLER, K. E. and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 2009. Breeding site fidelity of Southeastern American Kestrels (Falco sparverius paulus). J. Raptor Research 43:369-371.

VARLAND, D. E., J. A. SMALLWOOD, L. S. YOUNG, and M. N. KOCHERT. 2007. Marking techniques. Pp. 221-236 in Raptor research and management techniques (D. M. Bird and K. L. Bildstein, Eds.) Hancock House Publishers, Blaine, WA.

KORKY, J. K., and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 2006. Morphological variation near range ends of larvae of the natterjack toad Bufo calamita laurenti (anura: Bufonidae) in the Republics of Ireland and Poland. Bull. Irish Biogeog. Soc. 30:11-27.

SMALLWOOD, J. A., V. *DUDAJEK, S. *GILCHRIST, and M. A. SMALLWOOD. 2003. Vocal development in American kestrel (Falco sparverius) nestlings. J. Raptor Res. 37:37-43.

SMALLWOOD, J. A., and D. M. BIRD. 2002. American kestrel. A chapter in The birds of North America (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, DC, and the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology.

SMALLWOOD, J. A., C. *NATALE, K. STEENHOF, M. MEETZ, C. D. MARTI, R. J. MELVIN, G. R. BORTOLOTTI, R. ROBERTSON, S. ROBERTSON, W. R. SHUFORD, S. A. LINDEMANN, and D B. TORNWALL. 1999. Clinical variation in the juvenal plumage of American kestrels. J. Field Ornithol. 70:425-435.

*NEUBIG, J. P., and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 1999. The "significant others" of American Kestrels: cohabitation with arthropods. Wilson Bull. 111:269-271.

SMALLWOOD, P. D., and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 1998. Seasonal shifts in the sex ratio of fledgling American kestrels (Falco sparverius paulus): the Early Bird Hypothesis. Evol. Ecol. 12:839-853.

SMALLWOOD, J. A., and C. *NATALE. 1998. The effect of patagial tags on breeding success in American kestrels. No. American Bird Bander 23:73-78.

*MILLER, K. E., and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 1997. Juvenal plumage characteristics of male southeastern American kestrels (Falco sparverius paulus). J. Raptor Res. 31:273-274.

*MILLER, K. E., and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 1997. Natal dispersal and philopatry of southeastern American kestrels in Florida. Wilson Bull. 109:226-232.

SMALLWOOD, J. A., and P. J. *WARGO. 1997. Nest site habitat structure of American kestrels in northwestern New Jersey. Bull. New Jersey Acad. Sci. 42:7-10.

MEYER, K. D., and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 1996. Peregrine falcon. Pp. 52-60 in Rare and endangered biota of Florida, vol. 5, birds (J. A. Rodgers, Jr., H. W. Kale, II, and H. T. Smith, eds.). University Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

SMALLWOOD, J. A., and K. D. MEYER. 1996. Merlin. Pp. 616-623 in Rare and endangered biota of Florida, vol. 5, birds (J. A. Rodgers, Jr., H. W. Kale, II, and H. T. Smith, eds.). University Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

SMALLWOOD, J. A. 1990. Kestrel and Merlin. Pp. 29-37 in Proceedings of the Southeast Raptor Management Symposium (B. A. Giron Pendelton, ed.). National Wildlife Federation, Washington, D. C. 245 pp.

SMALLWOOD, J. A. 1989. Age determination of American kestrels: a revised key. J. Field Ornithol. 60: 510-519.

SMALLWOOD, J. A. 1989. Prey preferences of free-ranging American kestrels, Falco sparverius. Anim. Behav. 38: 712-714.

*MITHTHAPALA, S., J. SEIDENSTICKER, L. G. PHILLIPS, S. B. U. FERNANDO, and J. A. SMALLWOOD. 1989. Identification of individual leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) using spot pattern variation. J. Zool. 218: 527-536.

SMALLWOOD, J. A. 1988. A mechanism of sexual segregation by habitat in American kestrels (Falco sparverius) wintering in south central Florida. Auk 105: 36-46.

SMALLWOOD, J. A. 1988. The relationship of vegetative cover to daily rhythms of prey consumption by American kestrels wintering in south central Florida. J. Raptor Res. 22: 77-80.

SMALLWOOD, J. A. 1987. Sexual segregation by habitat in American kestrels (Falco sparverius) wintering in south central Florida: vegetative structure and responses to differential prey availability. Condor 89: 842-849.

SMALLWOOD, J. A., M. WOODREY, N. J. SMALLWOOD, and M. A. KETTLER. 1982. Foraging by cattle egrets and American kestrels at a fire's edge. J. Field. Ornithol. 53: 171-172.


Ornithology, ecology, animal behavior, conservation biology.

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4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
11:00 am - 12:30 pm