Dr Jim Reynolds DPhil

Dr Jim Reynolds

School of Biosciences
Assistant Professor in Ornithology and Animal Conservation

Contact details

W123, School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Jim Reynolds has worked on the reproductive biology and the nutritional ecology of birds from many different and diverse orders including passerines, geese, grouse, kingfishers and terns. He has worked in North America and in mainland Europe in investigating how human activity influences food availability and the resulting changes in avian reproductive investment and life histories. He employs state of the art technologies and traditional methods in field ornithology in spear-heading research into the foraging ecology of free-living birds in the UK, in the UK’s Overseas Territories and elsewhere.


BSc (University of Southampton)

MScF (University of Toronto)

DPhil (University of Oxford)


Dr Jim Reynolds was born in Northampton and remained in the Midlands where he attended school in Warwick before studying Biology at the University of Southampton. He carried out applied graduate work (MScF) in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto where he was a rarity studying wildlife of boreal forests rather than the ‘crop’ itself. He returned to the UK and to graduate work (DPhil) at the University of Oxford where his interests in nutritional ecology and physiology grew. He then returned to North America to apply his interests in foraging ecology to the conservation of a Federally Threatened bird species in the southern USA. Although he continues to collaborate on this Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) project, he is now a lecturer in ornithology and animal conservation at Birmingham. 


Dr Reynolds teaches on three years of the undergraduate programme with a particular emphasis on the reproductive biology, physiology, ecology and behaviour of birds.

He is Module Leader for the first-year animal biology course BIO145 (Introduction to Evolution and Animal Biology), and he also lectures on BIO234 (Ecology), BIO372 (Conservation Biology) and BIO392 (Advanced Topics in Animal Behaviour).

Furthermore, Dr Reynolds runs a final-year module to south-central Florida when students collect data on endangered fauna for their honours projects.

Dr Reynolds’ teaching employs the theoretical and practical approaches that he employs in his research, allowing students to understand how investigations are founded in good biological understanding and that techniques that have been established for decades can still generate data that are useful and progress our knowledge in key subject areas. This is at the heart of his teaching philosophy where students should have a good grounding in theoretical and applied components of core ecological and behavioural principles in order to call themselves whole animal biologists.  

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised seven PhD students to completion with the following thesis titles: 

- Is eggshell pigmentation a condition-dependent strategy? Implications for egg crypsis in Japanese quail. (2014)

- Breeding and population ecology of Sooty Terns on Ascension Island. (2014)

- The ecological and structural functions of avian eggshell pigmentation. (2013)

- Assessing the ecological significance of linkage and connectivity for avian populations in urban areas. (2013)

- The role of food availability in determining the energetic and life history costs of reproduction in short-lived birds. (2012)

- From nest building to life-history patterns: Does food supplementation influence reproductive behaviour of birds? (2011)

- A curate’s egg: feeding birds during reproduction is ‘good in parts’. A study of Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus and Great Tits Parus major. (2010)

For a list of possible PhD projects offered by Dr Reynolds www.findaphd.com/search/customlink.asp?inst=birm-Biol&supersurname=Reynolds


Research Theme within School of Biosciences:Organisms and Environment

The reproductive biology of birds


  • BSc 1987 University of Southampton, Biology
  • MScF 1993 University of Toronto, Avian physiology
  • DPhil 1998 University of Oxford, Avian reproductive biology
  • 2000-2002 Postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Memphis (TN) and Archbold Biological Station (FL)
  • 2003- Lecturer in Ornithology and Animal Conservation at the University of Birmingham

Research interests

Nutrient acquisition and utilisation by reproductive birds

Acquisition and utilisation of nutrients for reproduction require considerable energetic and temporal investments on the part of the breeding bird. Dr Reynolds is interested in how endogenous and exogenous nutrient-use is mediated during breeding attempts.

Past research has focused on macronutrient use by Florida Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and micronutrient use by Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata). He continues to study further aspects of nutrient-limited reproduction in small passerines. Current research examines the influences of food supplementation on various reproductive parameters of garden and woodland birds, including timing of laying, clutch size, chick growth and survival, fledging success and mid and long-term survival (e.g. recruitment to the breeding population), and investigations of the energetic investment of reproductive phases.

He is also examining the functional significance of pigmentation patterns of eggshells (with Dr Phill Cassey at the University of Adelaide, and Dr Vallo Tilgar and Prof. Raivo Mänd at the University of Tartu, Estonia). Future research will continue to focus on various impacts of food availability on life-history parameters and future work will use controlled aviaries to examine the reproductive consequences of nutrient limitation.

Dr Reynolds also undertakes research on the breeding biology of the Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscata) colony on Ascension Island in the south Atlantic where he works on their population dynamics including threats to colony stability, movements of birds during and between breeding seasons, and the breeding cycle. He collaborates with Prof. Alistair Dawson (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Edinburgh) and Prof. Chris Feare (University of Leeds) among others.

He has a number of external collaborators including: Dr Andrew Gosler (Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, University of Oxford) and Dr Ivan Miksik (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic) - functional significance of eggshell pigmentation in Great (Parus major) and Blue (Cyanistes caeruleus) Tits; Drs Stuart Bearhop and Jon Blount (University of Exeter at Falmouth) - further studies of food supplementation, including the use of stable isotope analysis; Prof. Marcel Visser (Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Heteren, The Netherlands) - reproductive energetics of small passerines; Dr Kim Fernie (Canadian Wildlife Service, Burlington, Ontario, Canada) - effects of electromagnetic fields on breeding performance of Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor); Prof. Steve Schoech (University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA), Dr Reed Bowman (Archbold Biological Station, Venus, FL, USA) and Dr Annette Sauter (Swiss Ornithological Institute, Sempach, Switzerland) - food availability and reproductive performance of Florida Scrub-Jays.

His group has also hosted a number of overseas students under the IAESTE scheme run by the British Council. They have included students from Brazil, Croatia, Mongolia, Ivory Coast, Poland, Serbia and the USA who were trained in ornithological techniques both in the laboratory and in the field.

Current active projects include:

  • The functional significance of eggshell pigmentation in garden birds (Kaat Brulez) and quail (Camille Duval) (co-supervisor: Dr Phill Cassey, Adelaide)
  • Assessing the ecological significance of linkage and connectivity for avian biodiversity in urban areas (Emma Rosenfeld; with co-supervisors - Drs Jon Sadler & Adam Bates, GEES)
  • The effects of supplementary feeding on the reproductive biology of garden birds (Simone Webber)
  • The population dynamics of Sooty Terns (Onychoprion fuscata) on Ascension Island in the south Atlantic (John Hughes)

Other activities

Dr Jim Reynolds is a keen contributor to activities of the British Ornithologists’ Union including committee work concerning scientific meetings and their publications. He is an Associate Editor of Ibis, their journal. He travels extensively for both work and leisure.


Reynolds, S.J., G.R. Martin, A.S. Dawson, C.P. Wearn and B.J. Hughes. 2014. The sub-annual breeding cycle of a tropical seabird. PLoS ONE 9(4): e93582. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093582.

Brulez, K., P. Cassey, A. Meeson, I., Mikšík, S.L. Webber, A.G. Gosler and S.J. Reynolds. 2014. Eggshell spot scoring methods cannot be used as a reliable proxy to determine pigment quantity. Journal of Avian Biology 45: 94–102.

Royan, A., D.M. Hannah, S.J. Reynolds, D.G. Noble and J.P. Sadler. 2013. Avian community responses to variability in river hydrology. PLoS ONE 8(12): e83221. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083221.

Duval, C., P. Cassey, P.G. Lovell, I. Mikšík, S.J. Reynolds and K.A. Spencer, K.A. 2013. Eggshell appearance does not signal maternal corticosterone exposure in Japanese quail: an experimental study with brown-spotted eggs. PLoS ONE 8(12): e80485. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080485.

Hughes, B.J., G.R. Martin, C.P. Wearn and S.J. Reynolds. 2013. Sublingual fistula in a Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) and possible role of ectoparasites in its etiology. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 49: 455–457.

Smith, J.A., T.J.E. Harrison, G.R. Martin and S.J. Reynolds. 2013. Feathering the nest: food supplementation influences nest construction by Blue (Cyanistes caeruleus) and Great Tits (Parus major). Avian Biology Research 6: 18–25.

Duval, C., P. Cassey, I. Mikšík, S.J. Reynolds and K.A. Spencer. 2013. Condition-dependent strategies of eggshell pigmentation: an experimental study of Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica). The Journal of Experimental Biology 216: 700–708.

Deeming, D.C., M.C. Mainwaring, I.R. Hartley and S.J. Reynolds. 2012. Local temperature and not latitude determines the design of Blue Tit and Great Tit nests. Avian Biology Research 5: 203–208.

Reynolds, S.J. 2012. The ‘Adopt a Sooty Tern’ scheme: get involved in the twists and ‘terns’ of seabird migration on Ascension Island. Sea Swallow 61: 30–31.

Duval, C., P. Cassey, S. Desaivre, S.J. Reynolds and K.A. Spencer. 2012. On the use of commercial quails as study organisms: lessons about food intake from individual variation in body mass. Avian Biology Research 5: 137–141.

Mainwaring, M.C., I.R. Hartley, S. Bearhop, K. Brulez, C. du Feu, G. Murphy, K.E. Plummer, S.L. Webber, S.J. Reynolds and D.C. Deeming, D.C. 2012. Latitudinal variation in blue tit and great tit nest characteristics indicates environmental adaptation. Journal of Biogeography 39: 1669–1677.

Hughes, B.J., G.R. Martin and S.J. Reynolds. 2012. Estimate of Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus population size following cat eradication on Ascension Island, central Atlantic. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 19: 166–171.  

Smith, J.A., D.A. Dawson, G.J. Horsburgh and S.J. Reynolds. 2012. Characterization of blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus microsatellite loci, and assessment of sequence homology among species to predict cross-species utility and chromosome locations. Conservation Genetics Resources 4: 605–612.

Mägi, M., R. Mänd, A. Konovalov, V. Tilgar and S.J. Reynolds. 2012. Testing the structural-function hypothesis of eggshell maculation in great tits: an experimental approach. Journal of Ornithology 153: 645–652.

Reynolds, S.J. and S.J. Schoech. 2012. A known unknown: elaboration of the ‘observer effect’ on nest success. Ibis 154: 1–4.

Robb, G.N., R.A. McDonald, R. Inger, S.J. Reynolds, J., R.A.R. McGill, D.E. Chamberlain, T.J.E. Harrison and S. Bearhop, S. 2011. Using stable-isotope analysis as a technique for determining consumption of supplementary foods by individual birds. The Condor 113: 475–482.

Hughes, B.J., G.R. Martin and S.J. Reynolds. 2011. The use of Google EarthTM satellite imagery to detect the nests of masked boobies Sula dactylatra. Wildlife Biology 17: 210–216.

Wilcoxen, T.E., E.S. Bridge, R.K. Boughton, M.A. Rensel, S.J. Reynolds and S.J. Schoech. 2011. Parental, social and environmental factors associated with hatching failure in Florida Scrub-Jays Aphelocoma coerulescens. Ibis 153: 70–77.

Reynolds, S.J. and C.M. Perrins. 2010. Dietary calcium availability and reproduction in birds. Current Ornithology 17: 31–74.

Hughes, B.J., G.R. Martin and S.J. Reynolds. 2010. Sooty Terns Onychoprion fuscatus on Ascension Island in the south Atlantic are a reproductively isolated population. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 18: 194–198.

Harrison, T.J.E., G.R. Martin, J.A. Smith, D.E. Chamberlain, S. Bearhop, G.N. Robb and S.J. Reynolds. 2010. Does food supplementation really enhance productivity in breeding birds? Oecologia 164: 311–320.

Portugal, S.J., R. Isaac, K.L. Quinton and S.J. Reynolds. 2010. Do captive waterfowl alter their behaviour patterns during their flightless period of moult? Journal of Ornithology 151: 443–448. 

Reynolds, S.J., G.R. Martin, C.P. Wearn and B.J. Hughes. 2009. Sub-lingual oral fistulas in sooty terns (Onychoprion fuscata). Journal of Ornithology 150: 691–696.  

Reynolds, S.J., G.R. Martin and P. Cassey. 2009. Is sexual selection blurring the functional significance of eggshell coloration hypotheses? Animal Behaviour 78: 209–215.

Wilkin, T.A., A.G. Gosler, D. Garant, S.J. Reynolds and B.C. Sheldon. 2009. Calcium effects on life-history traits in a wild population of the great tit (Parus major): analysis of long-term data at several spatial scales. Oecologia 159: 463–472.

Quinn, J.L., S.J. Reynolds and R.B. Bradbury. 2008. Editorial: Birds as predators and as prey. Ibis 150 (Suppl. 1): 1–8.

Hughes, B.J., G.R. Martin and S.J. Reynolds. 2008. Cats and seabirds: effects of feral Domestic Cat Felis silvestris catus eradication on the population of Sooty Terns Onychoprion fuscata on Ascension Island, South Atlantic? Ibis 150 (Suppl. 1): 122–131.

Jones, D.N. and S.J. Reynolds. 2008. Feeding birds in our towns and cities: a global research opportunity. Journal of Avian Biology 39: 265–271.

Robb, G.N., R.A. McDonald, D.E. Chamberlain, S.J. Reynolds, T.J.E. Harrison and S. Bearhop. 2008. Winter feeding of birds increases productivity in the subsequent breeding season. Biology Letters 4: 220–223.

Schoech, S.J., E.S. Bridge, R.K. Boughton, S.J. Reynolds, J.W. Atwell and R. Bowman. 2008. Food supplementation: a tool to increase reproductive output? A case study in the threatened Florida Scrub-Jay. Biological Conservation 141: 162–173.

Reynolds, S.J., G.R. Martin, L.L. Wallace, C.P. Wearn and B.J. Hughes. 2008. Sexing sooty terns (Onychoprion fuscata) on Ascension Island from morphometric measurements. Journal of Zoology, London 274: 2–8.

Tilgar, V., P. Kilgas, A. Viitak and S.J. Reynolds. 2008. The rate of bone mineralization in birds is directly related to alkaline phosphatase activity. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 81: 106–111.

Gosler, A.G., J.P. Higham and S.J. Reynolds. 2005. Why are birds’ eggs speckled? Ecology Letters 8: 1105–1113

Tilgar, V., R. Mänd, P. Kilgas and S.J. Reynolds. 2005. Chick development in free-living great tits Parus major in relation to calcium availability and egg composition. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology78: 590–598.

Fernie, K.J. and S.J. Reynolds. 2005. Effects of electromagnetic fields from power lines on avian reproductive biology and physiology: a review. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part B. Critical Reviews 8: 127–140.

Schoech, S.J., R. Bowman and S.J. Reynolds. 2004. Food supplementation and possible mechanisms underlying early breeding in the Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). Hormones and Behavior 46: 565–573.

Reynolds, S.J., R. Mänd and V. Tilgar. 2004. Calcium supplementation of breeding birds: directions for future research. Ibis 146: 601–614.

Tilgar, V., R. Mänd, I. Ots, M. Mägi, P. Kilgas and S.J. Reynolds. 2004. Calcium availability affects bone growth in nestlings of free-living great tits (Parus major), as detected by plasma alkaline phosphatase. Journal of Zoology, London263: 269–274.

Schoech, S.J., S.J. Reynolds and R.K. Boughton. 2004. Endocrinology. pp. 128–141, In: Ecology and evolution of cooperative breeding in birds, W.D. Koenig and J. Dickinson (Eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England., W.D. Koenig and J. Dickinson (Eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.

Reynolds, S.J., S.J. Schoech and R. Bowman. 2003. Diet quality during pre-laying and nestling periods influences growth and survival of Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) chicks. Journal of Zoology, London 261: 217–226.

Schoech, S.J., R. Bowman and S.J. Reynolds. 2003. Interactions between nutrition, corticosterone, an d reproduction in Florida scrub-jays. Integrative and Comparative Biology 43: 1057.

Reynolds, S.J. 2003. Mineral retention, medullary bone formation, and reproduction in the White-tailed Ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus): A critique of Larison et al. (2001). The Auk 120: 224–228.

Reynolds, S.J., S.J. Schoech and R. Bowman. 2003. Nutritional quality of prebreeding diet influences breeding performance of the Florida scrub-jay. Oecologia (Berlin)134: 308–316.

Garvin, J.C., S.J. Reynolds and S.J. Schoech. 2002. Conspecific egg predation by Florida Scrub-Jays. Wilson Bulletin 114: 136–139.

Reynolds, S.J. 2001. The effects of low dietary calcium during egg-laying on eggshell formation and skeletal calcium reserves in the Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata. Ibis 143: 205–215.: 205–215.

Gosler, A.G., P.R. Barnett and S.J. Reynolds. 2000. Inheritance and variation in eggshell patterning in the great tit Parus major. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences 267: 2469–2473.: 2469–2473.

Reynolds, S.J. and S. Waldron. 1999. Body water dynamics at the onset of egg-laying in the Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata. Journal of Avian Biology 30: 1–6.

Reynolds, S.J. 1997. Uptake of ingested calcium during egg production in the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata). The Auk 114: 562–569.

Reynolds, S.J. 1997. Body condition, territory ownership and age-related reproductive performance in Spruce Grouse Dendragapus canadensis hens. Ibis 139: 646–651.

Reynolds, S.J. 1996. Establishing body-size indicators in a study of female spruce grouse Dendragapus canadensis. Journal of Zoology, London 240: 113–122.

Reynolds, S.J. and M.D.C. Hinge. 1996. Foods brought to the nest by breeding Kingfishers Alcedo atthis in the New Forest of southern England. Bird Study 43: 96–102.

View all publications in research portal


Reproductive biology of birds; nutrient acquisition and utilisation by birds; significance of eggshell pigments; impacts of high-voltage power lines on breeding performance of birds; life history patterns of birds; birds in towns and cities; Ascension Island and birds

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office


Reproductive biology of birds; nutrient acquisition and utilisation by birds; significance of eggshell pigments; impacts of high-voltage power lines on breeding performance of birds; life history patterns of birds; birds in towns and cities; Ascension Island and birds

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office