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Waterfowl Symposium!

Walk, swim, fly, or waddle your way to the Grange Insurance Audubon Center this February. The Ohio Ornithological Society, partnering with Columbus Audubon, will present a Waterfowl Symposium, the weekend of February 26-28, 2010 at GIAC along the Whittier Peninsula in downtown Columbus. Through lectures and speakers, we’ll travel to the marshes of Iraq, visit the breeding grounds of the Arctic, fly above the stopover habitat of Lake Erie, and look inside nests to learn about the secret life of waterfowl. Just $80 for the entire weekend (Friday-Sunday) if you are a member of OOS or CA/GIAC.

The weekend swings into action Friday evening with a special performance by The Swinging Orangutangs featuring Julie Zickefoose and Bill Thompson III. The event is a special fundraiser for Nature Iraq. Question: will they play "Disco Duck"? Bring your dancing shoes, leave your hiking boots in the vehicle, and find out! We’ll serve beer, wine, and appetizers including a taste of the Middle East. Also, take a behind the scenes tour of the green-design, LEED-certified GIAC building while admiring the lights of downtown Columbus in the distance. Bring a friend or guest Friday night for just a $10 donation.

Saturday’s line-up includes a day of great speakers. We’re honored to present Dr. Azzam Alwash, the Chief Executive Officer of Nature Iraq, as our keynote speaker Saturday evening. Alwash, and NI’s efforts to restore the critical Iraqi wetlands and marshes drained by Saddam Hussein, were recently featured on CBS’s "60 Minutes". But folks in Ohio have long known about the good works of Dr. Alwash and efforts to restore Mesopotamian marshes deemed a Ramsar wetland site of international importance. As you may recall, CA’s Randy Rogers, while serving with the Ohio Army National Guard in Iraq, mobilized an armada of support for Iraqi environmentalists and ornithologists through his fundraising efforts on behalf of Nature Iraq. Randy also distinguished himself by providing crucial bird sightings from the Al Asad Air Base.

Two speakers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will join us. Jessie Barry, the Assistant Curator of the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds, will share "The Secret Life of Ducks" highlighting fascinating and unique waterfowl life history traits through photos, audio, and video of courtship displays. Learn more about evolutionary adaptations, intriguing natural history, and the role waterfowl play in wetland conservation. Also from Cornell, Mr. eBird himself, Chris Wood, will talk about the roles birdwatchers can play in tracking duck populations to ultimately better conserve species. Wood is the project leader for Cornell’s eBird database and a tour leader for the birdwatching tour company WINGS. GIAC also hosts a sculpture installation called "Lost Birds" by a Cornell professor of art: the display laments the extinct Great Auk, Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, and Heath Hen through larger-than-life artistic versions.

Legendary birder, author, and duck stamp supporter Paul Baicich, will share the inside scoop on 75 years of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, better known as Duck Stamps. More than $750 million dollars has been raised since 1934 in Duck Stamp sales supporting 5.3 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge system. Other speakers include Dr. Gwen Myers, Associate Veterinarian from The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, who will share her research on Spectacled Eiders. Keith Lott, Ohio Division of Wildlife, will reveal what’s currently being discovered about concentrations of migratory waterbirds via Lake Erie aerial surveys and how the information relates to future installation of wind turbines.

Sunday morning, we’ll travel independently to Central Ohio’s reservoirs, rivers, and ponds including Hoover Reservoir, Deer Creek Wildlife Area, Pickerington Ponds, Slate Run Metro Park, the immediate vicinity of GIAC (the Scioto-Audubon Metro Park and Green Lawn Cemetery), and more!

Details and registration are on the OOS website and on Columbus Audubon’s website. You have two options for registration: 1.) online through the Columbus Audubon website or, 2.) mail-in registration by check sent to OOS (PO Box 14051, Columbus, Ohio 43214).

Hope to see you there!

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