Every morning along the trails of Rice Creek Field Station, a faculty member and three students set out for a unique research opportunity that examines ways cardinals adapt to humans in different environments. 

Biological sciences faculty member Daniel Baldassare works with three undergraduates -- Brooke Goodman, Shyla Luna and Denis Ramos -- on a variety of projects related to Northern cardinal behavior.

"Why this species of bird is so adept at surviving and thriving in urban areas?" Baldassarre explained as the central thesis. "We use Rice Creek as our sort of natural site. It's undisturbed, it's where you would more normally think that you'd see birds. And we compare that to the birds that we see down in the city."

Thus Rice Creek serves as a control environment to measure against the other site, Barry Park in Syracuse.

"We do a lot of nest searching," said Goodman, a junior zoology major. "A lot of looking for pairs and figuring out where birds are."

My particular research kind of looks into a nest site selection of cardinals, and how that might impact the rate of predation," or being invaded by predators," said Luna, a senior zoology major. Pointing to a nest, she added: "Earlier, when we checked this, there was actually a little mouse in it."

"During this semester, I helped with feather samples and sending them up before they can be analyzed later on," said senior zoology major Denis Ramos.

We are really blessed at Oswego with some awesome undergraduates, and students who are really keen on getting research experience," Baldassarre said.

"My project specifically is with sound recording," Goodman said. "I'm going to kind of passively catch the cardinals singing. So my goal is to be able to make kind of a song repertoire for a lot of the birds at Rice Creek."

"I've got students working with me right now who really are doing projects that are akin to what a master's student would be doing for a thesis project," Baldassarre noted.

We've just been catching cardinals. I've learned to be patient and watch them," Ramos said.

"I've always been really interested in zoology, specifically ornithology," Goodman said. "So when I was looking for colleges, SUNY Oswego had their zoology program and I was specifically looking for an ornithology class to be able to take. So SUNY Oswego had that ornithology class and it also had Dr. Baldassarre who was actively looking for students to help with research. So it kind of doesn't really get any better than that."

"A big focus for me was being able to do hands-on research, looking up all the things about Rice Creek Field Station, in particular," Luna said.

"That was absolutely one of the highlights for the school," Luna added. "Just how involved a lot of undergraduates are. Because I know a lot of positions, especially like this are very competitive for a lot of schools and just the ease and the welcoming environment of us doing research and learning how to do it and learning all these things. It's amazing."