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James Paruk, Ph.D.
Jim holds a Yellow-billed Loon during a research expedition to the North Slope in Alaska.

James Paruk, Ph.D.

Adjunct for the Center for Waterbird Studies

207-839-7600 x249

City born and raised, Jim Paruk found his calling when encouraged to go bird watching with a fellow college student, who happened to be the future founder of Biodiversity Research Institute, David Evers. Since that fateful adventure, Jim has been a passionate naturalist. An expert on Common Loon behavior and ecology, he is senior scientist in BRI’s Center for Waterbird Studies.

Jim has been studying and working with loons for the past 20 years, conducting his research across North America. He has served as vice-president of the North American Loon Fund and research chair of Loonwatch in Wisconsin. For his doctorate work, he examined Common Loon social and breeding behaviors. Jim has travelled extensively throughout North and Central America and has led college courses in those regions.

Prior to joining BRI, he was a tenured, full-time college professor for 13 years at two academic institutions (Feather River College and Northland College) teaching courses in ornithology, zoology, ecology, and animal behavior. He is now an adjunct professor of biology at the University of Southern Maine, where he currently supervises two graduate students, each doing loon research.


  • Ph.D. Biology, Idaho State University, 1999
  • M.S. Biological Sciences (Avian Ecology), Northern Illinois University 1987
  • B.S. Biological Sciences, Lake Superior State University, 1984
  • Teaching Certificate, Secondary Education (Biology, Chemistry), Northern Illinois University

Expertise and Experience

  • Loon Ecology—has been conducting loon research for the past 20 years, co-author of the Common Loon Species Account (published by the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences)
  • College Professor—14 years. Courses: ornithology, ecology, animal behavior, zoology, biology, vertebrate physiology, human anatomy

Research Interests

  • Loon conservation, in particular threats to their survival, such as lead poisoning, botulism, and oil spills in their wintering environment
  • Understanding genetic variation in loons across North America and whether distinct subpopulations exist
  • Loon migration and pathways, in particular movements of young adults
  • Biology of wintering loons, in particular understanding the prevalence of flock-foraging behavior and its role and importance to loon winter survival
  • Loon molt, in particular quantifying differences in timing of the winter molt between Atlantic and Pacific loon populations
  • Other species of loons: Red-throated Loons, breeding ecology and wintering movements; Yellow-billed Loons, migration routes and breeding ecology

Books and Field Guides

  • Jim Paruk. 1997. Sierra Nevada Tree Identifier, Yosemite Natural History Association, Yosemite, CA.126 pp. Awarded runner-up for best field guide published by the National Parks Association in 1997.

Journal Articles

  • Evers, D. C, J. D. Paruk, J. McIntyre and D. Barr. 2010. Common Loon (Gavia immer). In The Birds of North America, No. 313 (A. Poole, Ed.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union. 93pp.
  • Paruk, J. D. 2000. Incubating patterns in Common Loons. Pages 50-54 in Loons: Old history and new findings. Proc. of the NALF symposium (McIntyre, J. W. and D.C. Evers, Eds). Am. Ornithol. Union, Holderness, NH.
  • Paruk, J. D, D. Seanfield and T. Mack. 1999. Bald Eagle Predation on Common Loon Chick. Wilson Bulletin. 111:117-118.
  • Evers, D., P. Reaman, J. Kaplan and J. Paruk. 1998. Geographic mercury trends in Common Loons. Ed, Judith McIntyre and David Evers in 1997 North American Loon Proceedings , St. Paul, MN.
  • Paruk, J.D. 1992. Reproductive success of Red-winged Blackbirds along an Interstate in Illinois. Illinois Trans. Acad. Sci. 86:142-149.
  • Paruk, J. D. 1990. Effects of roadside management practices on bird richness and reproduction. Illinois Trans. Acad. Sci. 83:181-192.



BRI Scientific Communications

Research Reports

  • Paruk, J.D., D. C. Evers, C. DeSorbo, J. Schmutz. 2011. An update on Yellow-billed Loon Migration. 40pp.
  • Paruk, J.D. , A. Nelson, L. Siegel, J. Fox, S. Windels, D. Evers and C. MacNulty. 2008. Effects of the 2000 rule curve on the Reproductive Success of the Common Loon (Gavia immer) in Voyageur’s National Park. 66pp.
  • Yates, M.A., M. R. Fuller, D.C. Evers, J. D. Paruk and K. Kenow. 2002. Extent and causes of mercury contamination in the Walker River (NV) Basin and implications of contaminants and the loss of fisheries for western migratory loons. USFWS report, Reno, NV. 24pp.

Presentations and Posters

  • Local Audubon Chapters (Washburn and Ashland, WI, Portneuf Valley and Snake River, ID Plumas County, CA, Kishwaukee, IL, New York Audubon, Millbrook,NY, Brunswick, ME)
  • Nature Centers (Kalamazoo, MI, Manitowish, WI, New York), Community Colleges (Quincy, CA, Kishwaukee, IL)
  • Universities (University of Southern Maine, Chico State University, Northern Illinois University, Lake Superior State University, Idaho State University)
  • Outdoor Programs, Idaho Museum of Natural History, Cable Natural History Museum, Paul Smith’s Visitor Center, The Wild Center, NY, Pocatello Zoo
  • Primary and secondary schools (Ashland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco, Pocatello, Quincy, Chester, Washburn, Gorham, Belize City)
  • Rotarian Chapters (Ashland, Hamtramck, Detroit, Pocatello, Quincy)
  • Linnaean Society (Ashland, WI)
  • SAGE Lecture Series (University of Southern Maine)
  • Loon Days (Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI, Walker Lake, NV)
  • Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, WI

Grants, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Yellow-billed Loon Breeding Ecology. 2011. National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
  • Red-throated Loon Wintering Movements. 2011. Bailey Wildlife Foundation
  • Evaluating the Health of Common Loons wintering off the coast of Louisiana. 2011. Earthwatch Institute

Additional funding has been awarded from the following sources:

  • Private: Earthwatch Institute, Max McGraw Foundation, Parsonage Foundation, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Hancock Forestry Management
  • State: Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Conservation, Nevada Fish and Game Department, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Game
  • Federal: U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Service
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