Thursday, August 13, 2009

On The Whole, I'd Rather Be In Philadelphia

And I am. In Philadelphia, that is, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, attending the 127th stated meeting of the American Ornithologists Union.

It's been a while since I've attended a scientific meeting and I'd forgotten how exhilarating they can be. Yeah, I know that sounds dweebish, but you know how it is, or at least I hope you do: when you're amongst your own chatting about everything and anything that relates to your passion you can't help but be energized. It's like a positive feedback loop that spirals into exciting ventures with old friends, newly-made acquaintances, and newly-minted ornithologists.

It's hearing the stories about major events in your field from the people who were at the center of those events.

It's discovering what we've recently learned about the subjects we're most interested in, what questions we've addressed and plugged those answers into the general body of knowledge . . . only to uncover more questions that need attention.

Good stuff.

Today started with Scott Weidensaul, author of absolute-must-reads such as "Living on the Wind" and "The Ghost with Trembling Wings" and others, presenting our host city as the Ornithological Cradle, a historical perspective how ornithology in the New World is all about Philadelphia. Bartram, Wilson, Audubon, and many more; the first banded birds, the horrific scenes from the Kittatinny Ridge that lead to the establishment of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and so much in between.

We all listened to Bob Ricklefs illuminate what he's discovered about Bird Comings and Goings in the West Indies. I listened to researchers present results of their long-term studies (still in progress; shouldn't they always be that way?) that showed effects of weather and habitat on a species or a suite of species. I learned what recent research is saying about bird collisions with windows, communication towers, and planes.

Unfortunately too many other sessions ran concurrently; I couldn't hear everything - I hope others are blogging about their sessions! Or at least there are some web archives somewhere.

Tomorrow will come too early - thankfully the coffee is free and bird-friendly.



Hilke Breder said...

I'd be interested to hear if there is anything new in preventing birds colliding with windows. I have tried using soap as a crayon on my windows; it was at least partially successful. Thanks for keeping us uptodate.

noflickster said...

@Hilke - I was going to try and summarize the window-strike talks from the "collisions" session, but found out it's not necessary: there's a wonderful write-up over on the Cornell Lab's blog by Caren Cooper, another Lab scientist who attended the same session.

Her summary is on the Round Robin blog.


slybird said...

Alright, you've had a day to rest. Lets see the after-action report. What were your highlights? :)

noflickster said...

@slybird - Whew, I'm going to need a couple more days of rest, at least to physically recoup. What a meeting those ornithologists throw.

Highlights to come, once I find some free time (when I'm not drop-dead tired, what am I still doing up??) to organize my thoughts, disentangle the new knowledge encountered, and process it all into something cognizant.

Coming soon to a blog near you . ..

Is your highlight reel up yet? I'll be checking in the morning!

slybird said...

MY highlight reel? Why, that would require me to be actively blogging.

dAwN said...

looking forward to any information you have to share from this event.
So whos listening to the sounds on the roof?

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