Prompted by his longtime interest in birds, Congressman Morgan Griffith visited the college’s new aviary in May to learn about its research. The aviary, which opened in fall 2015, is one of few such university facilities in the region and is used by researchers across campus who need controlled space for studies

An avid international birder, Griffith recently introduced legislation requiring new federal buildings to include bird-safe building materials and design features to the maximum extent possible. It also requires the use of similar measures on existing federal buildings when the buildings are being substantially renovated.

At the aviary, doctoral student Sydney Hope showed Griffith wood ducks that were hatched out of incubators and explained how she is examining the effects of varying temperatures on the early development of bird behaviors that are ultimately important to early survival. She showed Griffith the exploratory arena she created to study the social behavior of wood ducks. Hope’s research examines how bold and exploratory the ducks are.

Griffith said he tries to plan his vacations around worldwide bird watching. “When I go into a new area, I find it helpful to meet up with a local birder who can show me the hot spots. With our region now marketing itself as an outdoor destination, I hope Virginia Tech can help get a system whereby visiting birders can easily connect with local bird guides to see what we have.”