hero image
Margaret Rubega, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Margaret Rubega, Ph.D.

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Behavior | University of Connecticut


Professor Rubega is an expert in the functional ecology of feeding in birds and the anatomy, and biomechanics, performance of wild birds.


Professor Rubega is an expert on monk parakeets; chimney swifts; hummingbirds; use of social media in science education. She researches the biomechanics of foraging and feeding, including the feeding by hummingbirds and other nectarivores.

Areas of Expertise (8)

Social Media in Science

Avian Conservation

Anatomy of Birds

Evolutionary Biology


Functional Ecology of Feeding in Birds

Biomechanics of Birds


Education (2)

University of California - Irvine: Ph.D., Biology 1993

Southern Connecticut State University: B.S., Biology 1983

Affiliations (2)

  • Center for Environmental Science and Engineering
  • Center for Conservation and Biodiversity


Media Appearances (6)

No, owls can’t sit ‘criss cross, applesauce’

Associated Press  online


“Crossing their legs the way a human would cross their legs, where they put one knee over another, is not actually possible for them because the belly is in the way,” said Margaret Rubega, Connecticut State Ornithologist and a professor at the University of Connecticut. Owls’ knees and thighs are actually higher up in the body, covered by feathers, and what some people might think looks like a backwards-pointing knee lower down is actually their heel, Rubega explained in an interview.

view more

Fake chimneys for birds that need vertical hollows to rest

Associated Press  


But University of Connecticut professor Margaret Rubega, who is also the Connecticut state ornithologist, thinks the birds’ decline is likely rooted in South America. “Chimney swifts are fundamentally a South American bird that visits North America for four months,” she said. Rubega said a big problem is that scientists have only a few reports of small numbers of chimney swifts in the upper Amazon Basin, so they don’t really know where they winter, let alone what may be happening to them there.

view more

The Hummingbird as Warrior: Evolution of a Fierce and Furious Beak

The New York Times  online


At about the same time, Margaret A. Rubega, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Connecticut, published a paper in Nature on the way...

view more

Migration Is For The Birds!

WNPR  online


Margaret Rubega - Connecticut State Ornithologist and Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UConn.

view more

Hummingbirds Are Where Intuition Goes to Die

The Atlantic  online


When Margaret Rubega first read about how hummingbirds drink, she thought to herself: That can’t possibly be right. Hummingbirds drink nectar using tongues that are so long that, when retracted, they coil up inside the birds’ heads, around their skulls and eyes. At its tip, the tongue divides in two and its outer edges curve inward, creating two tubes running side by side. The tubes don’t close up, so the birds can’t suck on them as if they were straws. Instead, scientists believed that the tubes are narrow enough to passively draw liquid into themselves...

view more

Chimney Swifts Subject Of Study By DEEP

Hartford Courant  online


"I was able to bring in the state ornithologist, Margaret Rubega, who is a professor at UConn, to give a talk," said Longmore. "Chimney swifts spend most of their time in the air. They can't perch like regular birds, but they have the ability to cling to the rough sides of chimneys. They make nests by breaking off the tips of twigs on branches and then gluing them together with their saliva..."

view more

Articles (4)

Nest-building behavior of Monk Parakeets and insights into potential mechanisms for reducing damage to utility pol

Life & Environment

2014 The Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) commonly uses utility poles as a substrate for building large, bulky nests. These nests often cause fires and electric power outages, creating public safety risks and increasing liability and maintenance costs for electric companies. Previous research has focused on lethal methods and chemical contraception to prevent nesting on utility poles and electrical substations.

view more

Chimney Swift

Birds of North America

2014 A familiar component of the eastern North American avifauna, this small, agile, fast-flying aerial insectivore is easily identified by its characteristic “cigar on wings” profile. It breeds throughout much of southern Canada east of Saskatchewan, south through Texas and all states to the east, and more recently California.

view more

The anatomy of a shrike bite: bill shape and bite performance in Loggerhead Shrikes

Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

2014 We examined the relationship between bill morphology and bite performance in Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus), small passerines with raptorial bills. Shrikes feed on arthropods and vertebrates, and our aim was to understand how upper bill shape and jaw performance are integrated to meet the demands of their phenotypically diverse prey.

view more

Morphometric tools for sexing California populations of Loggerhead Shrikes based on DNA analysis.

The Southwestern Naturalist

2014 We describe a mophometric technique for distinguishing the sexes of loggerhead shrikes.

view more