Skip to main content

James S. Kellam, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science

About James Kellam

Dr. Jim Kellam came to the Biology Department in 2007 to teach in the overlapping areas of organismal and population biology. He settled in as the resident "wildlife biologist" while also teaching a general education course called "Human Biology," which as the name implies, does not relate at all with wildlife. He expected the Human Biology course to be just something he would do to pay the bills while concentrating on his other courses more closely related to his expertise. A funny thing happened, though, and that is he started truly enjoying the Human Biology course and its students. Meanwhile, he started becoming more physically active and eventually completed three full-length Ironman Triathlons (2016, 2018, 2021). Dr. Kellam's academic interests began to shift a little toward human exercise physiology, and while he still enjoyed teaching about wildlife, and especially ornithology, he moved to expand his course offerings and student research opportunities into the field of exercise. In 2017 and again in 2021, donors gave the college large amounts of money to support Dr. Kellam's ornithology classes and research program. He's had never stopped teaching and caring about birds, but these donations sparked a considerable shift in his professional focus back to ornithology. Since then, Dr. Kellam has started multiple research projects that will lead to scientific publications and train students for future ornithology careers; developed two new bird-related courses; and embraced a mission of public outreach by leading bird walks, creating YouTube videos, writing blog posts, and doing more public speaking. He is now equally invested in two distinct fields within Biology: Exercise Science and Ornithology, and he's loving every moment.

Other Interesting Facts About Dr. Kellam

He was Faculty Council President from 2017-2021 and helped the College transition between college presidents, enact a new core curriculum, negotiate new health care and retirement policies, and guide the campus through some nationwide challenges relating to race relations and the COVID-19 pandemic.

He got married for the first time at age 40 in 2015, bought a home, and experienced step-parenting to two teenaged girls. His new spouse also brought several pets into the household, and this was perhaps more challenging to him than parenthood; he'd never had pets before, and it took some time to like them.

Both his parents were employed by the Presbyterian Church (USA), and he has carried on the tradition by being an ordained Ruling Elder in his congregation in Greensburg. He also sings bass in his church choir.

The college from which he got his degree (a Bachelor of Arts in human ecology) only had 250 students at the time of his graduation. The College of the Atlantic has now grown to 350 students and is known as one of the most environmentally sustainable college campuses in the world.


Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, Purdue University (2003)

B.A. in Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic (1996)


Conservation Biology with Lab


General Biology 1 with Lab

Wildlife Biology with Lab

Undergraduate Research Program

World Series of Birds

Biology of Birds with Lab

Human Biology with Lab

Research Interests

Sensory perception of Downy Woodpeckers while foraging

Habitat suitability modeling for Red-bellied Woodpeckers in western Pennsylvania

Change in bird populations coincident with lake-to-wetland conversion

Bird productivity and site fidelity at abandoned mine drainage ponds

Selected Publications

Peer-reviewed Articles

Sarnowski, R. and J.S. Kellam. Manganese concentrations in Tufted Titmouse feathers are highest near a metal processing plant. Submitted.

Hutchinson, D.K. and J.S. Kellam. 2015. A test of the self-medication hypothesis for anting behavior in blue jays. BIOS 86: 144-151.

Kellam, J.S., and J.R. Lucas. 2014. Exogenous testosterone in male downy woodpeckers leads to reduced calling behavior of both males and their female partners during the non-breeding period. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 126(2), 249-260.

Kellam, J. S. 2014. Rare extra-pair copulation in Downy Woodpeckers. Northeastern Naturalist, 21(1).

Kellam, J.S., J.R. Lucas, and J.C. Wingfield. 2006. The role of testosterone in male Downy Woodpeckers in winter home range use, mate interactions and female foraging behaviour. Animal Behaviour 71: 695-707.

Koenig, W.D., E.L. Walters, J.R. Walters, J.S. Kellam, K.G. Michalek, and M.S. Schrader. 2005. Seasonal body weight variation in five species of woodpeckers. Condor 107: 810-822.

Kellam, J.S., J.C. Wingfield, and J.R. Lucas. 2004. Nonbreeding season pairing behavior and the annual cycle of testosterone in male and female Downy Woodpeckers, Piciodes pubescens. Hormones and Behavior 46: 703-714.

Kellam, J.S. 2003. Pair bond maintenance in Pileated Woodpeckers at roost sites during autumn. Wilson Bulletin 115: 186-192.

Other Academic Works

Kellam, J.S. 2022. Local Notes: Armstrong County. Pennsylvania Birds: Journal of the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology, contributor to each quarterly issue since Vol. 36, No. 1. Narvon, PA.

Kellam, J.S. 2021. A review of “The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think.” Ornithology 138: 1–2. DOI: 10.1093/ornithology/ukab013

Kellam, J.S. 2012. Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus). Pp. 228-229 in Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania (A. Wilson, D. Brauning, R. Mulvihill, Eds.). Penn State Press: University Park, PA.

Kellam, J.S. 2012. Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) and Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus). Pp. 234-237 in Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania (A. Wilson, D. Brauning, R. Mulvihill, Eds.). Penn State Press: University Park, PA.

Kellam, J.S. and M.L. O’Reilly. 2012. Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus). Pp. 238-239 in Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania (A. Wilson, D. Brauning, R. Mulvihill, Eds.). Penn State Press: University Park, PA.

Published Abstract

Kellam, J.S., J.C. Wingfield, and J. R. Lucas. 2007. Testosterone-dependent home range use and mate interactions of downy woodpeckers. Proceedings of the 122nd Stated Meeting of the American Ornithologists’ Union. Auk 124(2, Suppl.): 39AA