Skip to main content

Biology : BIOL4140 Ornithology

On This Page...


Welcome to the BIOL 4140 Ornithology Library Guide.

Avoid running around the Library 'like a chicken with its head cut off'. Use this guide to find the best resources in ornithology.  If you need a refresher on how to search scholarly databases, check out the Searching Tips or the Library Skills Tutorials.  You'll be as 'wise as an owl' after reading the tutorials and using the resources on this page.  Use the "On This Page..." menu to the left to navigate your way through the resources on this page.

Journal Article Databases

Article Searching Tips

"Have you heard? 'Bird' is the word..." - but not always. It could be 'avian' or 'prothonotory warbler' or 'Passerculus sandwichensis'.  Below you'll find tips on how to brainstorm keywords and develop search strategies. You will find more tips in the Library Skills Tutorials.


Keyword searching - With a keyword search you look for a word, no matter where that word appears. If you like, you canspecify that the word be in a particular field (e.g. the title, author, or subject), but it can be in any position (beginning, middle, or end).

  • Think of other words which express the same concepts as those you're looking for.  Keep in mind that the system searches for the exact letters you type, and not the general ideas they express. The system doesn't think. So you have to plan for single and plural, more specific and more general terms, nouns, adjectives, and verbs, etc.

    For example, for the topic 'Songs of Savannah Sparrows in Soutwestern Ontario', keywords to consider may include:

          Concept 1:  Song OR vocalization OR call OR sound OR dialect


          Concept 2: Savannah Sparrow OR Passerculus sandwichensis OR Ipswich Sparrow (subspecies) OR
                            Passerculus sandwichenesis princeps (subspecies)
OR Emerizidae (family)


          Concept 3: Southwestern Ontario OR London OR Ontario or Canada or Canadian or North America(n)


  • To search for a phrase many databases require quotations marks around the words. Otherwise, the database assumes an AND between the words and will search for them seperately. Keep in mind every database is different so you should check the HELP section to see how that database searches phrases.

    Eg. "Savannah Sparrow"
  • Truncation and wildcards are used to find variations of words.

    Truncation will find any ending for the root of a word. The truncation symbol in most journal databases is the asterisk *.

    E.g. vocal* will find vocal or vocals or vocalize or vocalization or vocalizations

    Wildcards are used within a word, to represent any letter.

    E.g. colo*r will find colour or color

Combining Keywords

  • When you use AND, you are specifying that both terms must be found in every item found

    E.g. song* and "savannah sparrow" and ontario
  • When you use OR, you are specifying that items have either of the terms, but not necessarily both. Use an OR between synonymous or similar terms for a concept.

    E.g. song* or vocalization* or call*
  • Some databases provide search forms (usually in an Advanced search screen) so that you don't need to type in AND or OR. For those that don't, you need to place parentheses around those terms that have OR between them.

    E.g. (song* or vocalization* or call*) and ("savannah sparrow" or "passerculus sandwichensis") and canad*

Narrowing your results

  • Check the database for ways to limit your results to:
    • Language – e.g. English
    • Publication Type e.g. Empirical study, case study
    • Scholarly articles/Peer Reviewed articles
    • Date range
  • Check the record where your search terms matched. The best matches for topics are in fields like Subject or Title. Search specific fields if there is an Advanced or Expert search option.
  • Use Subject Headings or Descriptors if available to increase the relevancy of your results
  • Add another concept to your search using the Boolean operator “AND”

Getting the Full-Text

Sometimes the database you are searching also provides full text journals. In this case you may see below or next to the citation a 'Full-Text' or PDF link to the article. 

If you do not see a Full-Text link, this does not always mean we don't have the article. It may be available from another source. In this case, to determine if Trent has the full-text of an article, click on the GetIt!Trent icon. This icon can be seen near each citation in a database.

Note: If you see the notation below a citation, “ Trent Library does not have this journal”, please ignore as it is not always accurate. GetIt! Trent will be able to better tell you if we have the journal.

If an article is not available, you can request an InterLibrary Loan (ILL) through RACER. Keep in mind articles via ILL are not available overnight, so this service is only useful if you have enough time to receive the article before your project is due. We recommend that you allow 7-10 days. For more information and to register for an account please go to the RACER web site.

Reference Books (Print & Online)

Loading ...


Loading ...

Bird Recordings

Birding 101

A little bird told me...

 The following sites provide current news updates:

Watch this CBC news clip (if video does not appear, click on title):

How a pizza pan saved a family of endangered birds (August 30, 2017)