Colleen Wisinski, M.S.

Conservation Program Specialist

Colleen Wisinski serves San Diego Zoo Global as a Conservation Program Specialist in Recovery Ecology. In this role, she has worked with golden eagles and cactus wrens and is currently the field team leader for the burrowing owl program. She is interested in conservation biology, population dynamics, and habitat use of birds.

Colleen’s main research focus is the ecology and conservation of burrowing owls in Southern California, particularly of the breeding population of burrowing owls in San Diego County. She is responsible for overseeing the field team, managing and analyzing the data, and working with colleagues to make recommendations about management of the species to local land and wildlife managers. Using direct observations, camera traps, GPS transmitters, and color banding, she and the team are learning about survival, reproduction, and movement of the owls in the region. One of Colleen’s favorite parts of the project is capturing, banding, and blood-sampling the owls for genetic analysis.

Colleen earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, and her master’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Management from Montana State University in Bozeman, where she examined survival and habitat use of greater sage grouse in southwestern Montana. Before coming to the Zoo, Colleen worked as a wildlife rehabilitator where she trained several raptors for educational purposes, and as a whooping crane tracker where she used radio and satellite telemetry to monitor a reintroduced population of cranes. She has been a member of The Wildlife Society since college and has been the Student Affairs Liaison for the Southern California Chapter since 2015. Colleen loves that she gets to work outdoors and be creative to figure out how to answer research questions in the field. Her love for animals and nature grew from her time spent outdoors in the North Woods of Wisconsin.

SCIENCE AT WORK