Basic Course in Ornithology

By Dr. Mousumi Ghosh, Dr. Manjari Jain, Dr. R Jayapal, Dr. Anand Krishnan, Dr. Suhel Quader, Dr. V.V. Robin, Dr. Umesh Srinivasan   |   NCF, IISER Mohali, SACON, JNCASR, NCF, IISER Tirupati, IISc Bangalore
Learners enrolled: 3881   |  Exam registration: 621
ABOUT THE COURSE : The course intends to introduce students to the scientific study of birds (ornithology). It covers basics of a range of topics like bird anatomy, physiology, taxonomy, behaviour, conservation. It is ideal for students pursuing their Bachelors and Masters degree in life sciences and for those who want to explore ornithology as a career option. It is also useful for birdwatchers and other enthusiasts from among the larger public who wish to deepen their understanding and appreciation of birds.

INTENDED AUDIENCE : Undergraduate and postgraduate students in sciences. But we also welcome interested and enthusiastic members of the public.

PRE-REQUISITE : Participants should have completed at least the first year of undergraduate degree  

INDUSTRY SUPPORT : Industries that will value this course include: 1. Agriculture 2. Forestry 3. Wildlife and biodiversity conservation 4. Sustainability divisions of any industry
Course Status : Ongoing
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 12 weeks
Category :
  • Multidisciplinary
Credit Points : 3
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate
Start Date : 22 Jan 2024
End Date : 12 Apr 2024
Enrollment Ends : 05 Feb 2024
Exam Registration Ends : 16 Feb 2024
Exam Date : 20 Apr 2024 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1 : Introduction to Ornithology; Avian Diversity and Classification; Evolution and Speciation
Week 2 : Anatomy and Morphology; Physiology; Coloration
Week 3 : Life History; Foraging Behaviour; Mating and Breeding Behaviour
Week 4 : Social Behaviour; Methods of Science and Posing Research Questions
Week 5 : Vocal Behaviour: Mechanisms; Ecology & Evolution; Vocal Behaviour: Case Study
Week 6 : Migration; Basics of Research Design
Week 7 : Bird Populations: Concepts; Bird Communities: Concepts
Week 8 : Mixed species flocks; Studying Bird Populations and Communities: Techniques
Week 9 : Avian Disease; Introduction to data visualisation and analysis
Week 10 : Biogeography; Macroecology; Macroecology: Case Study
Week 11 : Avian Conservation: Concepts; Avian Conservation: Case Studies 1; Avian Conservation: Case Studies 2
Week 12 : Citizen Science in Ornithology; Molecular Techniques in Ornithology; Molecular Techniques: Case Study

Books and references

1. Lovette, I.J and Fitzpatrick, J.W. 2016. Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd ed. Wiley.
2. Gill, F.B, and Prum, R.O. 2019. Ornithology, 4th ed. Macmillan.
3. Birkhead, T. 2013. Bird Sense: What it’s like to be a bird? Bloomsbury, NY.
4. Birkhead, T., Wimpenny, J., and Montgomerie, B. 2014. Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Instructor bio

Dr. Mousumi Ghosh

Dr. Ghosh received her Masters degree in Wildlife Science from the Wildlife Institute of India in 2007 and her doctoral degree from Saurashtra University in 2013. For her doctoral research, she studied the historical and ecological correlates of breeding distribution of Himalayan leaf warbler communities. In 2017, she joined the National Centre for Biological Sciences as a NCBS-inStem-Cambridge postdoc fellow and focused on developing molecular tools to study the diet and evolutionary aspects of critically endangered Gyps vultures. She joined the Nature Conservation Foundation as the Academic Dean in September 2020. Her role includes planning, coordinating and developing the PhD and Conservation Leadership Programme at NCF.

Dr. Manjari Jain

IISER Mohali
Manjari Jain received her PhD from CES, IISc Bangalore and is currently an Associate Professor of Biology at IISER Mohali. Her research focuses on acoustic communication in animals and the drivers of signal evolution. She is passionate about teaching and communicating her science to the public, especially school children.

Dr. R Jayapal

Dr. Jayapal is a faculty at Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History. His main research interests include taxonomy and distribution of birds, ecology of bird communities and assemblages, and general natural history of birds. He is also the course director for the M.Sc. (Ornithology & Conservation Biology) programme at SACON.

Dr. Anand Krishnan

Dr. Krishnan uses birds as a system to understand the context, function and physical principles underlying biological sound in tropical environments. Simultaneously, he also works back using sound to study basic ecological processes.

Dr. Suhel Quader

Suhel Quader is a Senior Scientist at the Nature Conservation Foundation. His training is in wildlife biology, animal behaviour and evolutionary ecology. His current interests are focussed on participatory science and in techniques and problems in data science. In addition, he works on public communication and education about birds and nature.

Dr. V.V. Robin

IISER Tirupati
Robin is an evolutionary ecologist hugely motivated by the natural history of birds, especially those on the Shola Sky Islands of the Western Ghats. Several of these species are endemic and endangered and he uses a variety of tools including acoustics, genetics, and remote sensing images to explore different aspects of the ecology of these species. More about his research and his team is at www.skyisland.in

Dr. Umesh Srinivasan

IISc Bangalore
Umesh Srinivasan is based at the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science. Umesh studies how climate change and forest degradation affect the population dynamics of forest birds in the Eastern Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh, and is also involved in a community-based conservation project to protect the critically endangered Bugun liocichla.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 
20 April 2024 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 8 assignments out of the total 12 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Madras .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

MHRD logo Swayam logo


Goto google play store