William B. and Mary J. Robertson

Fellowship AWARD

The William B. and Mary J. Robertson Fellowship Award is offered to support the study and conservation of wildlife, habitat, and ecosystems in Florida and the Caribbean, as defined by the area covered in A Guide to the Birds of the West Indies by Raffaele et al. (2003).

Proposals are due by February 15th of each year.

The maximum amount awarded each year is typically about $2,000.

Applications must contain 4 distinct parts:

Applications must contain 4 distinct parts:

1) Updated CV of the applicant with current contact information;

2) Research proposal (up to 8 double-spaced, excluding references, figures, and tables) with:

Statement of objectives,

Materials and methods,

Explanation of how the information gathered will further the objectives

3) Budget (1 page) showing total project costs and what portion of the total this award will cover; and

4) Timeline (1 page) indicating when work will be completed.


The application should not be submitted simultaneously for consideration of other research awards offered by the Florida Ornithological Society.

All application materials should be put into a single PDF file, in order, and emailed to the Committee Chair with ROBERTSON PROPOSAL in the title line.

Proposals must be submitted by close of business February 15th to be considered for the current grant cycle.

Students (undergraduate to PhD) are especially encouraged to apply.

Post-doctoral level scientists and non-profit organizations or their representatives may also be considered for funding. 

Recipient(s) will be announced at the spring meeting of the Florida Ornithological Society.

Proposals are due by February 15th of each year.

The West Indies

The West Indies is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km) long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north. From the peninsula of Florida on the mainland of the United States, the islands stretch 1,200 miles (1,900 km) southeastward, then 500 miles (800 km) south, then west along the north coast of Venezuela on the South American mainland.

Three major physiographic divisions constitute the West Indies: the Greater Antilles, comprising the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico; the Lesser Antilles, including the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, and Grenada; and the isolated island groups of the North American continental shelf—The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands—and those of the South American shelf, including Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire. (Bermuda, although physiographically not a part of the West Indies, has common historical and cultural ties with the other islands and is often included in definitions of the region.)

Source: Britannica

Submit an Application

If you are interested in applying for this grant, submit your proposal below using our online form. 

Past Grant Recipients

The genetics of the critically endangered Bahama Oriole

Recipient: Janine Antalffy, PhD

Organization: University of Baltimore

Impacts of free-roaming domestic cats on Neotropical birds during the non-breeding season in the Bahamas

Recipient: Claire Nemes, PhD

Role: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Taxonomy, population size, and habitat requirements of the Brown-headed Nuthatch on Grand Bahama Island

Recipient: John Lloyd

Effect of sea surface temperature changes and North Atlantic Oscillation on Sooty Tern survival

Recipient: Fernando Colchero

Role: Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University

History of the Mary J. and William B. Robertson Fellowship Award

Known as the “Dean of Florida Ornithology,” William Beckwith Robertson, Jr.’s vast knowledge of the habits, habitats, and history of Florida’s avifauna qualified Bill for that title. He began studying the birds of Florida and the nearby West Indies when he went to south Florida in 1950; he remained a student of the subject until he died in January 2000. In the 1970s and 1980s crews were assembled to help with banding the terns at the Tortugas. Those crews went to the islands twice a year, once in spring to catch banded adults and once in summer to band (all) chicks. During twice daily visits to the colony, just past dawn and shortly before sunset, we worked hard herding chicks into corrals and fetching recalcitrant individuals from vegetation.

Bill was a naturalist, interested in plants and animals, and he published on both. His orni­thological publications, which included many federal technical reports, pertain to West Indian ornithogeography, based in part on trips to the Virgin Islands, population ecology of raptors and long-legged waders, based on field work on Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), herons, ibises and storks in Everglades National Park, and population ecology of seabirds, with field work on Sooty Terns (Onychoprion fuscata) at the Dry Tortugas.

Bill was a founding member of the Florida Ornithological Society, which came into being in the early 1970s. He served the society in a variety of capacities until his death. He was the first president and served for two terms (1973- 1974). Together with Glen E. Woofenden he published Florida Bird Species: An Annotated List, (1992) as a special publication of the society.

Bill’s wife Betty (Mary J. Robertson), who also was a member of the AOU, was his collaborator on the Sooty Tern project.

Source: “In Memoriam: William B. Robertson, Jr. 1924-2000,” Glen E. Woolfenden, The Auk 118(3):740-742, 2001


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