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Here’s Your Invitation to a Major Ornithology Meeting in Washington DC This August

By Peter P. Marra
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Pete Marra, director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
Pete Marra is the director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and heads the conference steering committee. Image courtesy Pete Marra.

Pete Marra is the director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and heads the steering committee for the 2016 North American Ornithological Conference, happening in Washington, DC, August 16–20, 2016. More than 2,000 ornithologists are expected to convene for talks and poster sessions as well as a 5K run, a poetry slam, and more. Attendance is not restricted to scientists only—Pete wrote the following post to welcome members of the public to the meeting, where you can mingle with ornithologists and see how scientists share their findings in real life. If you’d like to attend, learn more and register here for full meeting or single-day passesHere’s Pete:

Let’s start with a quiz. What do the following topics have in common?

  • Shorebirds in a Changing World
  • Birds and Farms, Science and Romance
  • Current and Future Prospects on Avian De-extinction

Time’s up! Answer: these topics actually have three things in common:

First, they are 3 of 35+ compelling symposia to be held at the North American Ornithology Conference (NAOC 2016) this summer – August 16-21, 2016 in Washington, DC, and hosted by the Smithsonian Institution.

Second, they are of course all about birds (everyone’s favorite topic, right?).

Third, these symposia, like many at the NAOC, are a unique blend of science and conservation. And this year, it’s something any member of the public can be a part of.

The NAOC is not just any bird meeting; it represents the coming together of people who care for, study, and protect birds from all over the Western Hemisphere and beyond, including professors, students, government scientists, policy makers, refuge managers, and top-flight birders. They are without a doubt some of the most passionate and highly dedicated people you will ever meet. Probably a lot like you. Which is why you should consider attending this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Canada Geese in Washington D.C. Photo by Sujit Mahapatra via Birdshare.
The meeting offers the chance to combine science, bird watching, and sightseeing in and around the nation's capital. Photo by Sujit Mahapatra via Birdshare.

You’ll participate in morning bird walks and post-conference field trips with the world’s sharpest birders, take behind-the-scenes tours of the National Zoo’s Bird House, attend plenaries by renowned scientists, and experience stimulating symposia and talks. And during the many social events you’ll be talking birds, science, and conservation with the world’s most famous ornithologists, while sipping a glass of wine or drinking a cold beer.

The NAOC is held only every four years, and this year’s conference will be particularly memorable. Its theme—Bringing Science and Conservation Together—couldn’t be any more appropriate, given the time and place of the meeting. This year we celebrate a bird conservation milestone. Signed 100 years ago to the day (August 16, 1916) the Migratory Bird Treaty between the U.S. and Canada was a landmark agreement recognizing the vital importance of bird conservation. At the NAOC opening reception, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we’ll formally mark this anniversary and recognize its prescient understanding of the complementary roles of science and conservation.

I urge you to look at the conference program to appreciate the sheer scope of the research that will be shared and the unique opportunity to engage with thousands of like-minded people. It is no exaggeration to say that if you care about ornithology, believe in science, and support conservation, this is a meeting you must not miss.

So I extend my personal invitation to you to attend NAOC 2016 and look forward to meeting you this summer in Washington.

Follow the latest NAOC conference news and updates on Facebook and Twitter @NAOCbirds.

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library