Professor Tim R Birkhead FRS

Professor Birkhead

Tel: +44 (0)114 222 4622


Room B1 206, Alfred Denny Building

Page 2: Professor Birkhead's research and writings webpage

Page 3: Professor Birkhead's undergraduate teaching webpage


BSc (1972) University of Newcastle; DPhil (1976) University of Oxford
Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader in Zoology, University of Sheffield (1976-92)
Professor of Behavioural Ecology, University of Sheffield (1992-present)
Fellow of the Royal Society 2004



Fellow of the Royal Society (2004).
Elliot Coues medal, for outstanding and innovative contributions to ornithological research (2010).
ASAB medal (Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour), for outstanding contributions to the study of animal behaviour (2012).
Godman-Salvin Medal, for 'distinguished ornithological work' by the British Ornithologists' Union (2016).
Founders' Medal of the Society, for the Study of the History of Natural History (SHNH), for contributions to the history and bibliography of natural history (2016).

Undergraduate teaching

Senate Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching (2007).
Teacher of the Year Award, Animal & Plant Sciences (2009).
UK Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award (2013).
National Teaching Fellowship (2017).

Communicating science to the public

Zoological Society of London Silver Medal, for contributions to the understanding and appreciation of zoology, including such activities as public education in natural history (2014).
Eisenmann Medal (Linnaean Society of New York), for excellence in ornithology and encouragement of the amateur (2015).
Stephen Jay Gould Prize, for increasing public understanding of evolutionary biology (2017).
Zoological Society of London’s Clarivate Analytics Award, for Communicating Zoology to a general audience for my book The Most Perfect Thing (2017).

Undergraduate Teaching

View Teaching Webpage

  1. Coordinator & Lecturer on Level 1 module APS126 Behaviour of Humans and Other Animals
  2. Coordinator & Lecturer on Level 3 module APS327 History and Philosophy of Science

Key Research Interests

image of birds

I have three main research areas:

  1. Post-copulatory sexual selection, mainly in birds.
  2. Population biology of birds.
  3. The history of science, and of reproduction and ornithology in particular.

For info on Tim's long term study of guillemots on Skomer Island, visit: and if you wish to donate, go to:

Professional Activities (1995 onwards)

  1. Organiser of the Biology of Spermatozoa biennial meetings (1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015). The meetings are now being organised by a steering group of BoS led in 2017 by Dr Rhonda Snook.
  2. Leverhulme Research Fellowship (1995-1996)
  3. President of the International Society for Behavioural Ecology (1996-1998)
  4. Winner of Consul Cremer Prize for The Red Canary 2003
  5. Winner of 'Best Bird Book of 2009' for The Wisdom of Birds
  6. TED lecture on the origins of ornithological science: /tim_birkhead_the_wisdom_of_birds.html
  7. Founder (with Mark Cocker, Jeremy Mynott and John Fanshawe) of New Networks for Nature
  8. Honorary Curator of the Alfred Denny Museum (1980-present) (see also: Cabinet of Curiosities events, in the Sheffield Festival of the Mind)
  9. President of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (2013-2016)

Speaker at the following meetings

image of Professor Birkhead

  • The Ransom Lecture, University of Nottingham, April 2017
  • Talk: Bird Sense, Royal Society/ZSL meeting, London, September 2017
  • Plenary Speaker: German Ornithological Society (D-OG), Halle, Germany, September 2017
  • Plenary Lecture: The Seabird Group, Edinburgh 2017
  • The Condry Lecture, October 2015
  • Keynote speaker: Royal Society meeting: ‘When Senses take Flight’, Kavli. September 2014.
  • Speaker: When senses take flight, Royal Society, September 2014
  • Keynote Speaker: Scottish Ornithologists' Club, Aberdeen, March 2014
  • Cheltenham Science Festival 2013 and 2014
  • Plenary Lecture: European Ornithologists' Union, Norwich, August 2013
  • Speaker: Alfred Russel Wallace and his legacy, The Royal Society, October 2013
  • Annual Open Lecture, University of Kent, Canterbury: Darwin and Sexual Selection, February 2013
  • Annual Research Lecture, Oxford Brookes University, March 2013
  • Cornell University, Department of Behaviour and Neurobiology: talk on Darwin and Post-copulatory sexual selection, November 2012
  • Stamford Raffles Lectures, Zoological Society of London, June 2012
  • Niko Tinbergen Lecture, Leiden, May 2012
  • Royal Society London, Lecture on Francis Willughby, March 2012

Research Group

Lab-group web page:

Postdoctoral Researcher

Marie Attard

Marie Attard (2016-2018)
Leverhulme funded: Egg shape in birds


PhD Students

Duncan Jackson

Duncan Jackson (2016-2019) The adaptive significance of avian eggshell architecture


Research Technicians

Jamie Thompson

Jamie Thompson


Tim Birkhead has supervised a total of 40 PhD students and has acted as external examiner for the degree of PhD at the following universities:

Oxford (1983), Liverpool (1983), Glasgow (1984), Cambridge (1984), Durham (1984), Open University (1984), Cambridge (1985), Sussex (1985), Memorial University, Newfoundland (1987), Oxford (1987), Glasgow (1987), Cambridge (1988), Oxford (1988), Aberdeen (1989), Leicester (1989), Glasgow (1989), Oxford (1990), Oxford (1991), Leicester (1992), Stirling (1992), St. Andrews (1992), Nottingham (1994), Cambridge (1994), Oslo (Norway) (1994), Open University (1995), Oxford (1995), Uppsala (1995), York (1996), Oslo (1996), Melbourne, Australia (1997), Leicester (1997), Paisley College (1997), Glasgow (1997), Oslo, Norway (1998 x 2), Glasgow (2000). Sterling (2001) La Trobe, Australia (2002), Flinders, Australia (2003), Dalhousie, Canada (2003), Brisbane, Australia (2003), Oslo (2006) and many others.

Go to page 2 of Prof Tim Birkhead's website