Monday, March 24, 2008

OOS Annual Conference

The earth is really putting forth the vibes of spring right now. It's great to walk out early in the morning, and hear a symphony of American Robins, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, and Song Sparrows in full song. The longer days are stimulating these early birds to fire up the old vocal tracks, and begin the melodies of spring. From here on out, it'll be an ever-increasing cascade of birds and song, peaking in May, when both migrant and resident birds are at their peak in Ohio.

And that's when we're holding the 4th annual conference of the Ohio Ornithological Society - May 16-18 - a good time to find migrants AND enjoy all our breeders, too. The place is Mohican State Forest, which is one of the richest Ohio woodlands for breeding bird diversity, including a number of rarities.

We're especially glad to have three stellar speakers for the weekend, starting off with Dana Bollin, who is naturalist at Maumee Bay State Park and a long-time birder, and OOS board member. You can read more about Dana and other conference details right here.

The inimitable Bill Thompson III is also on the slate. Bill is one of the best known figures on the North American birding scene, in part because he is editor of Bird Watcher's Digest, but also because he is a prolific author and speaker. Bill's newest book is hot off the presses - The Young Birders Guide to Birds of Eastern North America. Bill is a leading proponent of getting more young people involved in birding and conservation, and puts his money where his mouth is. This is also an important initiative of the OOS, and Bill's help has been invaluable to us on this front. The book is beautifully illustrated by Bill's better half, Julie Zickefoose.

Bill's talk is titled No Child Left Inside, about his efforts to encourage youth participation in birding and outdoor pursuits. As anyone who has heard Bill speaks knows, this'll be a great program.

We are very excited to have Dudley Edmondson as our Saturday evening keynote speaker, all the way from Duluth, Minnesota. It'll be like a homecoming for Dudley, as he used to live in Columbus, Ohio. Dudley is an outstanding wildlife photographer who travels the country far and wide in search of subjects for his lens. His talk will focus on a recent visit to the tundra around Nome, Alaska, where the birds are nothing short of outrageous during the Arctic summer.

Dudley is also very active in encouraging minority particpation in outdoor activities like birding, and like Bill, puts his thoughts into action. The Black & Brown Faces in America's Wild Places is the culmination of four years of travel and interviews with African American people around the country, who are actively involved in outdoor pursuits. In Dudley's own words: "The combined subjects of the outdoors and people of color is rare but I am very passionate about both so I found it necessary to write and photograph this book in the hopes of making nature a topic of dicussion among African Americans".

If only there were more voices like Bill and Dudley, I think bird conservation would be much further along, and birding would be far more popular than it is. I hope you can make our conference, and hear and meet Bill, Dudley, and Dana. For all of the info and registration material, click right here.

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