Monday, February 08, 2010

Bird Nerds

The last 8 months of work on my research project into the effect of weather on avian migration has been paying off. I am now in San Diego at the joint conference of the Cooper Ornithological Society, the American Ornithologists' Union, and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists, to present my results. The conference and Boise State University each helped to bring me here. While the conference has just started, it has been great so far.

I came a day early so I could attend a Sunday morning field trip. Up early to discover that the field trip leaves before any place to get breakfast opens. Good thing I brought a spare energy bar! Our first destination was the Tijuana River estuary. This is a great place for birding. Before heading out onto the estuary we had to do some serious birding in the parking lot of an apartment building! Yes its true, birders have no shame. This particular parking lot offered two great birds, a Heptatic Tanager and a Yellow-crowned Night-heron. The trails out on the estuary were great. Lots of Say's Phoebes, Great Egrets, shorebirds, waterfowl, etc. The highlight occurred at the far end as we were identifying hundreds of gulls and shorebirds. Suddenly they all took to the air! Birds everywhere! Just then we saw the culprit. A Peregrine Falcon flew through the bunch and over our heads. He would stay hungry for now, but it was fun to watch! We stopped at a few other locations picking up more shorebirds. One highlight was a group of Black Skimmers that flew right by us. In another location we observed three different subspecies of Savannah Sparrow. In the end we logged 72 species. Probably 13 new life birds for me!

In the afternoon, it was time to get down to business. I attended a 4 hour session on Avian First Aid. It was excellent. While the instructor was primarily experienced in avian rehab, she tailored her talk toward field work since her audience was dominated by field researchers. She covered many of the most common injuries and a number of techniques for reducing the stress on an injured bird. How to help ensure that the treatment doesn't provide additional stress on top of the original injury. It was packed full of great information.

Today the general research presentations begin. It will be a full day of science. I plan to attend sessions on the endangered species act, conservation reliant birds, birds and wind energy, oil spill rehabilitation success, ecosystem fragmentation, bird social networks, and a number of studies regarding climate change. It will be a full day! Tomorrow afternoon I present my research.

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