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Jack Kirkley, Ph.D

Emeritus Professor of Biology

[email protected]


Block Hall Basement B1


Jack completed his masters and doctoral degrees in Biology-Ecology at Utah State University in 1985, focusing his research on nestling physiology and the associated parental behaviors of Red-tailed Hawks and Swainson’s Hawks.  He began his teaching career in the Fall of 1985, as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Biology at Western Montana College, an institution that was eventually renamed the University of Montana Western, where he is now a tenured Professor.

Jack teaches a variety of zoology courses including Survey of Montana Wildlife and Habitats, Ornithology, Mammalogy, Evolution, and Human Anatomy and Physiology. As an ornithologist who specializes in the study of birds of prey, Jack has, from 1993 to the present time, conducted a long-term study of the ecology of Northern Goshawks in southwestern Montana, placing radio transmitters on over 70 goshawks to study their seasonal movements.  Jack has studied the physiological ecology of long-distance migration in Swainson’s Hawks, which led him to spend three Octobers in Chiapas, Mexico to document their “refueling” method of powering their migration to Argentina.  Also, in the summers of 2011-2013, Jack conducted raptor surveys along several major roadways in Yellowstone National Park to document the locations of raptor nesting territories, as compared to where he mapped the occurrence of those same species in the summers of 1976-77.  Most recently, Jack has begun to study the behavior and movements of Great-tailed Grackles, an extremely rare bird species in Montana, documenting the first two instances of nesting of this species in Montana, as well as the first DNA-confirmed hybridization of this species with the Common Grackle.

During his more than three decades of service at Montana Western, Jack has also organized and led a variety of natural history/bird watching tours to international locations, such as Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Galapagos. Jack has also served as an international visiting professor, having taught zoology, ecology and ornithology courses at The University of Belize and St. George’s University in Grenada.  Among his many kinds of public/community service, Jack has been a long-time member and active leader in both the local and statewide Audubon organizations, as well as an activist and Wilderness Walks leader for the Montana Wilderness Association.