Birds bring us together

Khara Strum reports on her time spent at this year's North American Ornithological Conference.

Opportunities to join a flock of fellow bird conservationists don’t occur often and last month I attended the North American Ornithological Conference in Washington D.C. With more than 2,100 registrants and 1,400 abstracts submitted, this was the largest to date North American ornithological conference bringing together scientists and conservationists from 41 countries across the globe. Representing Audubon California, I presented my work setting conservation objectives for shorebirds that breed in California’s Central Valley.

The theme of the conference was “Bringing Science and Conservation Together.” Eduardo Crisol from Central Queensland University shared how birds find habitat in and reduce pest insects in macadamia nut orchards in Australia. I hope to use his lessons learned as Audubon engages in research on birds and almond orchards here in California.

Christy Morrissey at the University of Saskatchewan reiterated what we already know about wetlands and planting vegetation along farm fields: they reduce water contamination, filtering out potentially harmful chemicals before they reach open water. This scientific evidence is useful to share when I talk to Central Valley farmers about the benefits of planting hedgerows. 

Our partners at The Nature Conservancy explained how the timing of habitat created by BirdReturns compliments existing programs like the Waterbird Habitat Enhancement Program. The synergy of these programs allows us to prioritize conservation dollars and provide habitat when and where it is needed most.

Conferences are an important component of learning, sharing and networking. Audubon staff contributed to more than 35 presentations on work from Alaska to Maine and chaired several symposia on birds, climate change and conservation. I left feeling inspired knowing that although we are separated by many hundred and sometimes thousands of miles, birds connect us. 

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