I just returned from a fabulous three days in Duluth Minnesota attending the Raptor Research Foundation annual conference. About 200 attendees from all around the world were there presenting their research and hearing about the work of others. I presented the preliminary results of my first field season in the form of a poster.
The poster session featured 24 posters, five of which were presented by Boise State Raptor Biology students! The session was well attended! I had a steady stream of visitors reviewing my poster and asking questions. Discussing my work with the top raptor researchers in the world was fantastic. I was discussing my findings with the people who know the Northern Goshawk as well as anyone. I discussed goshawk diet with falconers, statistics with statisticians, predator-prey relations with prey experts, owls with owl experts (regarding my recent video of a goshawk eating an owl), compared goshawk diets to Cooper's Hawk diets, the challenges of video recording systems, etc. I received strong confirmation of my work, but also great suggestions on how to make it better. It was definitely well worth the investment!
During the presentation sessions, I learned about the current state of pesticides and raptors (not pretty), the state of persecution against raptors (even uglier), the effect of wind farms on raptors (not as bad, but still a significant issue), new statistical approaches (cool, but maybe ugly for some...), and new monitoring techniques (unmanned vehicles!). As I have commented about other conferences, this whirlwind of information was cut down into 20 minute segments. My brain struggled to keep up and change from topic to topic. I have pages of notes to follow up on and have generated over 30 suggestions to integrate into my year one report and my plan for year two. Hopefully I will be able to attend again next year in Vancouver.
Special thanks to the Raptor Research Center at Boise State for partially funding my trip!