Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology

This Award is run in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology and celebrates an important contribution which takes forward our understanding of avian ecology or conservation science.

The Award is presented to an individual or group who has made a recent publication or revealed a new finding which substantially advances our understanding in the field. It may also be presented to an individual or group whose work positively reflects this new research, or other pioneering work in the field, to the wider public.

Pictured right - A cuckoo with tracking device designed by the BTO Cuckoo Team, winners of the 2012 Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology.

The 2013 winner is Dr Christian Rutz

Dr Christian Rutz, of the University of St Andrews, has been awarded for undertaking pioneering work on miniature, bird-borne tracking devices that can provide intimate glimpses into the hidden lives of birds.

The first notable breakthrough was the development, and successful deployment, of tiny bird-mounted video cameras, to obtain a bird’s-eye view of the world, and gather detailed data on foraging behaviour, habitat use, social interactions and conservation threats (Science 2007 318: 765). More recently, Christian’s group deployed highly innovative miniature ‘proximity loggers’ on birds that can detect when individuals meet each other, enabling the real-time mapping of social network dynamics in wild populations (Current Biology 2012 22: R669-671). Both papers reported world firsts, pushing the frontiers of what is possible in terms of miniaturisation and sophistication of animal-attached tags. Christian combines technological innovation with cutting-edge research.

Apart from leading to high profile publications, the work by Christian and his research group has had considerable media impact, providing a good example of how science can be communicated effectively to broad audiences. Despite significant potential for commercial exploitation, Christian has made his engineering advances and expertise freely available to others, to facilitate rapid uptake of these emerging technologies by the ornithological research community.

Christian Rutz (left) with former PhD student, Lucas Bluff (right) attaching a tag to a wild crow


British Trust for Ornithology
The Nunnery
IP24 2PU
Tel: +44 (0)1842 750050
Fax: +44 (0)1842 750030
Registered Charity Number 216652



Previous Winners:

2012 The BTO Cuckoo Team